Fire District Taxes
For those of you who did not see reports in newspapers, here's what happened to our fire department. For the third election cycle in a row, voters went against funding our budget. We will have one more chance in March for an increase which could take effect in November, 2008. By then we will be close to default, if not already there. As insurance, gas, etc., continue to cost more, we are running on empty; fire trucks are aging beyond when other departments are able to get replacements; fire fighters' wages went up by all of 2 percent, less than inflation.
Here's the "rest of the story": If we default, the state will kill our status as an independent special district and the county will then have the responsibility of seeing that our homes and persons will be protected. That means most of the firefighters and their equipment will be taken over by one of the nearby cities. Some firefighters will not have their jobs as they are duplicated by the city department personnel. Instead of the $260 per year our voters were asked to approve (up from $190), we will all be charged nearly two mills by the city department, whether Largo, Seminole or Clearwater.
Unfortunately only Indian Shores voted well, though many didn't bother. Of 1,122 registered voters, 127 showed up or voted absentee. 76 voted yes, 51 said no. Belleair Shore also said yes (8 voters of 79 eligible) six times and no twice. Interesting that there isn't a home in that town with a value of less than $1.5 million. That means that if we don't get the increase, they will be paying a minimum of nearly $3,000 per year, even if homesteaded from the beginning. My tax would only be about $200 a year under millage (property value), but I certainly will again vote for the increase in March as my neighbors, especially those not homesteaded or newly homesteaded, will get royally soaked. Check your tax bill or TRIM notice for your taxable value and you'll see what lies in the future. I'm afraid that many of the long-homesteaded (also known as majority of voters) are being very selfish and not nice to our firefighters.
- Bob McEwen, Fire Commissioner, PSF&RD
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