How does a city of about 14,000 residents deal with the fact that fully 30%, or more, of its property – such as colleges, churches and nonprofits – are exempt from property taxes?
Historic City News will be watching tomorrow night when city commissioners in St Augustine take up, for a final reading and public hearing, a proposal to change the method used to calculate future fire service fees collected from taxable and non-taxable property owners alike.
At issue is whether or not residential structures create the same burden on the city’s fire systems and resources as other commercial structures. Currently, everyone is assessed 6¢ per square-foot, but that is likely to change.
Being proposed is a suggested rate increase from 6¢ per square-foot to 7¢ per square-foot for residential property, with commercial, institutional, or other non-profit, non-residential property owners facing an increase from 6¢ per square-foot to 12.7¢ per square-foot.
City management says that, as it sits today, the fees collected only cover about 35% of the actual tab for fire service costs. They are hoping to increase revenues from fire service fees to about $1.68 million per year which may cover closer to 50% of the actual cost. The balance will be paid from ad valorem property taxes.
Before the commission Monday night is whether or not to change the apportionment of the service fee — with different rates for residential and non-residential property owners. The actual numbers will be fixed during the final budget process.
If you plan to attend, the regular meeting of the St Augustine City Commission will begin at 5:00 p.m. Monday July 11th, in the Alcazar Room at City Hall at 75 King Street in St Augustine and will be live-streamed at CoSATV.com. The meetings are aired live on Government Television, Comcast Channel 3, and are replayed at 9:00 a.m. the following Wednesday.