SOUTH PASADENA — If negotiations go well, property owners in the unincorporated area adjacent to this city could see their fire taxes drop in the coming year.
They'll also have a new fire department answering their calls for help.
The city of St. Petersburg was the low bidder for a contract to provide services to this area that lies between South Pasadena and Gulfport. South Pasadena currently provides fire protection there.
St. Petersburg's bid of $75,000 per year is about 3.3 times less than South Pasadena's bid of $249,999.96. Gulfport, which also submitted a bid, said it could do the work for about $133,100 annually.
If contract details can be worked out between the city and the county, which is responsible for ensuring that unincorporated areas have fire protection, the reassignment from South Pasadena to St. Petersburg would likely happen Oct. 1, the start of the new fiscal year.
Pinellas County put fire service in the area up for bid in April after years of complaints from property owners in Pasadena Golf Club Estates.
Their complaints began in 1993 shortly after they voted to become part of that city's fire district.
The homeowners argued that South Pasadena had misrepresented the costs, telling them the fee would be about $1.60 per $1,000 of assessed, taxable property. But after voting to go with South Pasadena, they say the tax rate was actually about 67 percent higher, or $2.68 per $1,000.
The rate continued to climb until this year when it reached about $3.13 per $1,000, which works out to about $313 per year for a $150,000 home with a $50,000 homestead exemption.
County estimates released last month indicated that, should the contract be awarded to South Pasadena, the overall tax rate would have jumped about 43 percent for property owners in the unincorporated area. The tax bill for a home valued at $150,000 with a $50,000 homestead exemption would have increased to about $426 per year.
But Tuesday, county commissioners indicated they were unlikely to award the contract to South Pasadena. Instead, they agreed to advertise the area's tax rate for the coming year as if they had already adopted the St. Petersburg contract. That would make the rate about $2.62 per $1,000, or about 16.3 percent less than property owners in the unincorporated South Pasadena area are currently paying for fire service.
Anne Lindberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8450.