Crist signs ban on emergency response charges


Want to hear a pin drop in the county commission chambers? Just bring up the suggestion of collecting a fire tax!

The hugely unpopular “fire tax” fiasco that was withdrawn from consideration by the St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners last year won’t need to raise it’s ugly head again under a measure signed into law today.

Siding with backers who said taxpayers were paying again for services their taxes should already be paying for, Crist signed SB 2282, which bars local governments from charging for law enforcement, firefighter or EMS responses.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, does allows local governments to charge for hazardous material removal.

Crist also signed Senate Bill 1000 which allows local governments to hold a referendum on adding a discretionary sales surtax to pay for fire and EMS services. However, the amount collected would be offset by a reduction in property taxes.

The measure was seen by some special fire districts as a way to shift some of the burden of paying for services away from property owners to tourists.

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