St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster shares some logic for fire fee
The Tampa Bay Times isn’t paying enough for ink and paper, St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster says.
Foster made the comment last week during a City Council discussion on the proposed fire-readiness fee, which could be imposed on residents to combat a budget shortfall of $10 million.
Days before the meeting, the Times’ Editorial Board called the fee a “deceptive and unfair fee that is nothing more than a cleverly packaged regressive tax.”
Consider how the fire fee works. The city would charge every nongovernment parcel of property in the city a flat fee--currently proposed at as much as $75 - regardless of the value. Then the city would charge properties that have buildings on them a second fee tied to the value of those buildings. Foster has said that could be as much as 24 cents per $1,000 of building value, though he hopes to lower both that amount and the flat fee.
The owner of a house worth $50,000 above the value of the land would pay a total annual fire fee of $89 while the owner of a house worth 20 times as much ($1 million) would pay a total fee of less than four times as much: $315.
Based on a regressive tax and not specifically mentioning the editorial, Foster told City Council members that the Times should be paying higher prices for ink and paper than those paid by the Tampa Tribune.
Foster's referring to the financial struggles that all newspapers have faced in recent years.