Mayor Foster and St. Petersburg City Council are exploring the possibility of a new fire service assessment as part of the Fiscal Year 2013 budget process.
You can view the dollar amount of the proposed fire services special assessment attributable to tax parcels in the City of St. Petersburg.
The City of St. Petersburg is establishing a dedicated funding source for the provision of fire protection services and facilities through the imposition of non-ad valorem assessments, sometimes referred to as special assessments, against certain real property located within the City limits. The special assessments, as and if approved by the City Council, will be allocated among assessable tax parcels according to a two tiered methodology pursuant to which a portion of the costs attributable to the City’s continual readiness to provide fire protections services will be shared equally among all tax parcels on a per parcel basis regardless of size, value or physical characteristics (Tier 2), and a portion of the remaining costs will be shared in accordance with the relative value of improvements for each parcel in the City as compared to the value of improvements for all parcels in the City (Tier 1).
As part of this process, a public hearing will be held at 9:00 a.m. (or as soon thereafter as possible) on July 12, 2012 in City Hall Council Chambers, 175 Fifth Street, St. Petersburg, Florida to receive public comment on the proposed special assessments. All affected property owners have a right to appear at the hearing and to file written comments or objections with the City within twenty days of this notice. View a copy of the published notice of the public hearing.
The City Council is cognizant that any system, metric or analytical view of appraising benefits or assessing costs will be open to some criticism or suggestion of alternative methods or approaches, and has labored to educate itself as to the facts, analysis, law and policy latitudes available to it in determining the proposed dollar amount of the assessment attributed to each tax parcel.
The contemplated special assessment offers a reasoned approach for cost sharing premised upon two distinct tiers or classes of assessment allocations: Tier 1 – a sharing of benefits, burdens and costs for budgeted fire protection services and facilities based upon the relative value of improvements for each tax parcel in the City as compared to the value of improvements for all tax parcels in the City; and, Tier 2 – a sharing of benefits, burdens and costs for budgeted fire protection services and facilities on a per tax parcel allocation premised upon maintaining a continual state of preparedness and readiness to serve. Each tax parcel within the City is uniquely identified by the county property appraiser using a parcel identification or folio number.
The special assessment will fund in part the costs associated with providing fire protection services and facilities each year beginning October 1, 2012. The remainder of the fire protection budget will be funded with other legally available revenues of the City. The combination of funding sources offers a significant equity tool which will reduce dependence on property taxes alone as the sole source of funding for fire protection services, reduce the demand on the City's other legally available funds, and is intended to achieve a more equitable, balanced, sustainable and dedicated means of funding the City Fire Department's service mission over time.
The availability of a special assessment is but a single aspect of the annual budgetary process. A fire service assessment provides an equity tool to pay for costs that might otherwise be paid for with property taxes. Whether, and to what extent, the use of fire service assessment revenue will lower property taxes is a part of the overall annual budget process which will not become finalized until September.
The special assessment is an annual assessment which will continue from year to year. For the upcoming fiscal year, any assessment will be billed directly by the City to the property owner at the address shown on the records maintained by the county tax collector. In future fiscal years, the assessment may be collected pursuant to the tax bill collection method authorized by Section 197.3632, Florida Statutes, in which case the annual assessment will include fees imposed by the county property appraiser and tax collector and will be adjusted as necessary to account for any statutory discounts which are necessitated when employing the efficiencies of collecting the assessments annually on the same bill as property taxes.
If approved by City Council at the conclusion of the public hearing, the special assessment for each tax parcel will equal the sum of (i) $0.23 per $1,000 of the value of improvements (not land value) attributed to the tax parcel by the county property appraiser (Tier 1) plus (ii) $75 per tax parcel (Tier 2), together with a share of administration and collections costs associated with annual assessment. The dollar amount of the proposed special assessment attributable to each tax parcel is available online or by visiting the offices of the City Clerk, located at City Hall, 175 Fifth Street, St. Petersburg, Florida.
This overview is intended to inform all constituents about the City's efforts to effectively budget and use a blend of legally available revenues to meet its fire service obligations, reduce costs, be efficient and continue to provide a reasonable level of service. The mission of the City's Fire Department is to always stand ready to protect the lives and property of the community through exemplary fire education, prevention, suppression and associated emergency rescue services. This special assessment provides a supplemental and dedicated means to accomplish these responsibilities.