Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hernando County Commission will hear fire fee ideas on Tuesday

Public safety director Mike Rampino

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times (2008)

Public safety director Mike Rampino

BROOKSVILLE — The Hernando County Commission is expecting a lively debate Tuesday over how taxpayers will pay for the services of the newly merged county and Spring Hill fire and rescue services.

The proposal, which will be presented in a public hearing, calls for adopting a maximum annual fee of $171.44 for each property owner for fire service and a 0.5598 millage assessment for emergency medical services.

"There are a lot of opinions about it out there, and I guess we're going to hear them," offered Hernando County Commission Chairman Wayne Dukes.

Along with other commissioners, he's heard from Spring Hill property owners who currently pay a 2.5 mill ad valorem tax for such services and are likely to be the most affected by the change.

Not surprising, many aren't happy, especially those whose property is worth less than the $50,000 the state exempts from taxation, said Commissioner Dave Russell.

"To people whose property has always been exempt I imagine there would be some opposition," Russell offered this week. "But overall, I think it's more equitable to have everyone contribute."

The proposal being presented by public safety director Mike Rampino is the result of months of study by county staff and was chosen over other options. These included a hybrid mix of flat fees and charges based on property value for fire service. That option, Rampino said, still exists should the commission decide to go that route.

Key to the proposal that would go into effect Oct. 1 would be the inclusion of the formerly independent Spring Hill Fire District's 48,000 residential properties. For county residential customers who are currently paying an annual flat fee of $194.87 for fire service, the proposed rate would mean a savings of $23.43 a year.

But for some Spring Hill residents, whose fire and rescue service is currently tied to the taxable value of their property, a flat fee would likely mean an increase, especially if most or all of the value of their home is exempt. In addition, churches, which were not included in Spring Hill Fire Rescue's assessment, would be charged under the new plan.

The measure being offered lays out a budget totaling $27.4 million that seeks to bring the consolidated department to a higher standard by adding 18 new firefighters. This would enable emergency vehicles to be staffed by a three-person crew.

According to Rampino, the added expense would be offset by $600,000 in savings through the absorption of administrative positions, plus additional concessions gained through recent labor negotiations between the firefighters unions.

Russell and Dukes say their biggest quibble with the proposal so far is the numbers. Both feel that the proposal is too expensive and that the addition of new personnel needs a closer look.

"I haven't seen anything that justifies adding manpower that will cost an extra $900,000," Dukes said. "And I don't think you're going to see it fly with a lot of people either."

Russell suggested that adding personnel would be best done incrementally while the department concentrates on finding other ways to shave expenses.

"I don't oppose properly staffing our fire trucks, but it should be something we work toward over time," Russell said.

Logan Neill can be reached at lneill@tampabay.com or (352) 848-1435.

Hernando County Commission will hear fire fee ideas on Tuesday 07/06/13 [Last modified: Friday, July 5, 2013 6:35pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg and ex-cheerleader Lynn Aronberg finalize their divorce

    Blogs

    In announcing that her divorce was settled this week, Lynn Aronberg said the reason for the split in part was because she supports President Donald Trump and her Democratic husband does not.

    Dave and Lynn Aronberg were married on St. Pete Beach in May 2015.
  2. A trip down memory lane of Bucs' preseason expectations

    Bucs

    With HBO's Hard Knocks in town and the Bucs opening training camp Friday with their highest expectations in a decade, here's a look back at Tampa Bay's preseason expectations since their last playoff appearance in 2007 — and the results.

    2008

    Jameis Winston and running back Peyton Barber celebrate a touchdown last season against the 49ers. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  3. Boy Scouts apologize over Trump's remarks at jamboree

    National

    Facing an angry backlash from parents and former members, the chief executive of the Boy Scouts of America apologized on Thursday for political remarks made by President Donald Trump at the organization's national jamboree this week, during which the commander-in-chief crowed over his election victory, attacked the news …

    President DonaldTrump, front left, gestures as former boys scouts, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, left, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, watch at the 2017 National Boy Scout Jamboree at the Summit in Glen Jean, W.Va. Boy Scouts president Randall Stephenson told the Associated Press on Wednesday, July 26, in his first public comments on the furor over President Donald Trump's speech on Monday that he'd be "disingenuous" if he suggested he was surprised by the Republican president's comments. [Associated Press]
  4. Drones restrictions coming at Tampa Bay area airports

    Airlines

    Starting Sept. 1, Tampa International Airport officials will be enforcing new height restrictions for drones and other unmanned aircraft systems, according to a press release.

    In this February 2017 file photo, a drone flies in Hanworth Park in west London. Starting Sept. 1, Tampa International Airport officials will be enforcing new height restrictions for drones and other unmanned aircraft systems,
[John Stillwell/PA via AP, File]
  5. Hit-run driver who refused to leave van threatened to shoot, Hillsborough deputies say

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — Eddie Carly Colon Soto peeked his head out the broken side window of his van as a SWAT team closed in.

    The driver of this van tried to flee the scene of a crash in north Tampa Thursday morning until he could travel no farther, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said. Then he refused to leave the van and threatened sheriff's deputies, they said. [TONY MARRERO   |   Times]