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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Online petition targets St. Petersburg's fire-fee

6

August

The proposed fire-readiness fee has ignited passion among activists in St. Petersburg.

Petitions. Surveys. Meetings.

Vince Cocks, vice president of Faith House, a halfway house in St. Petersburg, started an online petition in order for residents to voice opposition to the fire fee. Comments from people who complete the petition will be sent to Mayor Bill Foster and council members.

“This whole idea is to let council know,” he said.

The petition can be found at: signon.org/sign/stop-unfair-st-pete-fire-2.fb21?source=s.icn.fb&r_by=26830.

So far, 80 people have signed the petition. Cocks hopes to collect 1,000 signatures by the end of the month.

The fire fee is being considered to close a $10 million budget shortfall. City Council has to decide to implement the fee or raise the property tax rates by the end of September. Public hearings are scheduled for Sept. 13 and 27.

Cocks, who criticized the fee at council meetings, believes the fire fee is a burden on the city’s poor and low-income residents.
Excluding government buildings, all of the city’s 106,000 parcels would be charged the fee, including charities and churches.

In a two-tiered approach, property owners would be charged a flat fee of $75 for each lot and then an additional $0.23 per $1,000 of the appraised value of any structures, such as a house, on the lot. There would be an exemption for low-income property owners.

[Last modified: Monday, August 6, 2012 3:18pm]

    

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