Fire fee NOT a done deal yet

Historic City News has verified that an article attributed to Peter Guinta that was published in today’s Record newspaper, falsely reports that “The commission passed the fee unanimously.”

The controversial city fire tax hike that has been proposed and could require residents to pay 50 percent more for fire protection in 2010, was presented “for first reading” to the City Commission at last Monday’s regular meeting.

According to Debra Gibson in the City Attorney’s Office, all city ordinances, including the proposed 6 cents per square foot non-ad valorem fire assessment, begin with a first reading. What the commissioners did in this weeks meeting was to schedule the proposed ordinance for a public hearing and second reading at the next regular meeting in two weeks.

The proposed increased fire fee is NOT a done deal yet.

Former County Commissioner Herbie Wiles, who owns property within the city that would be subject to the increased fee, remarked that he didn’t feel the commission realizes the extent to which this proposal will be unpopular. Wiles says that he could not attend Monday night’s meeting to express his objections, however, he says that he did send an e-mail indicating his concerns.

Historic City News has received invitations from at least two citizen groups who are meeting for the purpose of discussing their objections and possible alternatives to the proposed fire fee before the August 24th City Commission meeting.

Some residents were confused by the “Notice of Increase” letter recently received in the mail. After reading the comment in this morning’s newspaper, they could likely be more confused. According to reports, City Comptroller Mark Litzinger, said yesterday that he’s received “50 letters or e-mails, 38 calls, 20 checks and six walk-ins.”

Don’t send in that money just yet.

The commission could vote to approve or deny the new fire fee as soon as the next regular City Commission meeting scheduled for 5:00 p.m. Monday, Aug. 24th in the Alcazar Room at City Hall, but that would be after the public hearing and a second reading of the proposed ordinance.

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