Fire Fees Could Be Implemented in Fla. Community

PALM BAY, Fla. --

Central Florida's second largest city, Palm Bay, is considering fire fees to help the city balance its budget and avert more cutbacks, officials said.

The proposal is getting mixed reaction from city leaders and taxpayers.

More cuts or raising other taxes is what the city of Palm Bay is looking to do, officials said.

Palm Bay is facing a $6 million shortfall next year. One way the city could make up the difference is to require a new yearly fee for fire service.

"Everybody's looking for a way to make money, you know it's just a shame," a resident said.

"I think we pay enough taxes already and I don't see why we need an additional taxes," another resident said.

This year, records showed that the city spent more than $13 million to staff five fire stations. With the declining real estate market, the city is only expected to rake in $17 million in taxes.

Brevard County and a handful of smaller cities, have already implemented controversial fire fees ranging from $30 to $300 a year.

Palm Bay has commissioned a study to look at potential fee structures. Some residents said they don't have any problem with it.

"I'm willing to pay more because I think they are worth it and I don't think they even get the pay they deserve," said a resident.

Vivian Markoe said if the city doesn't have the money it should just make more cuts even to firefighters.

"It would be hard but it's hard on everybody. But what are you going to do," said Markoe.

The city manager has proposed a budget that includes fire fee revenue, but the council is waiting for a $50,000 study to be complete before deciding.

The fire fee study won't be completed for a few months, but officials said some taxpayers are saying there should be a city-wide vote before a fire fee is implemented.

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