Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Spring Hill Fire Rescue board drops bid to tax office equipment and machinery

SPRING HILL — A controversial bid to impose a new tax on local businesses died Wednesday night when the Spring Hill Fire Rescue board, the same folks who initiated the proposal, voted unanimously to kill it.

The reversal ended a battle that began July 22 when the board voted 4-1 to ask the County Commission for permission to collect a tangible personal property tax on machinery and office equipment owned by businesses.

In the weeks that followed, irate citizens and business owners in the district let Fire Rescue officials know they weren't happy with the measure.

Commissioner Rob Giammarco, who cast the lone dissenting vote for the tax on July 22, complained to Fire Chief Mike Rampino on Wednesday that he and other board members had virtually no information about the resolution when it was presented to them.

"Why was the board kept out of the loop?" asked Giammarco.

Rampino, who was not at the July 22 meeting, admitted that there was confusion as to whether the district could legally collect the tax. Although Spring Hill Fire Rescue taxes land and buildings, it never has taxed businesses on their tangible property, which includes anything from a printing press to a file cabinet.

According to Rampino, an opinion rendered by the law firm of Lewis, Longman & Walker, stated that state law mandates that ad valorem taxes include both real and personal property.

However, the opinion was not delivered to the department before the resolution was drawn up. The Fire Board wanted the county to approve the resolution implementing the tax in time to be on the coming year's tax bills.

The County Commission has since proposed an ordinance that would prevent the fire district from collecting the tax while it remains under the county's taxing authority. The district, which voters last year chose to make independent, is expected to gain its taxing authority in a special election next year.

The tangible tax could be revisited then, said fire district attorney Andy Salzman.

"In my opinion, it's a dead issue now," Rampino told commissioners. But the district had been denied revenue it should have had for the past 20 years because the tangible tax has not been collected, he pointed out.

"Who knows what our millage rate would have been?" Rampino said.

The district is facing an estimated $1.3 million budget deficit. Passage of the tax would have added between $300,000 to $500,000 in extra revenue.

In other action, the union representing Spring Hill firefighters announced that it would not be seeking a pay raise in the coming year.

"Given the nature of the economy, we just don't feel it's a good time," said Troy Hagar, president of Local 2794.

The district and union are still negotiating health insurance benefits, which the district estimated would increase by up to 16 percent in the coming year.

Logan Neill can be reached at or (352)848-1435.

Spring Hill Fire Rescue board drops bid to tax office equipment and machinery 08/13/09 [Last modified: Thursday, August 13, 2009 7:02pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. James Wilder Jr. back at running Canada


    Remember when former Plant High star and Florida State running back James Wilder Jr. announced he was switching to linebacker?

    That was short-lived, apparently.

  2. Unlicensed contractor accused of faking death triggers policy change at Pinellas construction licensing board

    Local Government

    The unlicensed contractor accused of faking his death to avoid angry homeowners has triggered an immediate change in policy at the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board.

    Last year Glenn and Judith Holland said they paid a contractor thousands of dollars to renovate their future retirement home in Seminole. But when they tried to move in on Dec. 14, they said the home was in shambles and uninhabitable. They sent a text message to contractor Marc Anthony Perez at 12:36 p.m. looking for answers. Fourteen minutes later, they got back this text: "This is Marc's daughter, dad passed away on the 7th of December in a car accident. Sorry." Turns out Perez was still alive. Now the Hollands are suing him in Pinellas-Pasco circuit court. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  3. What you need to know for Tuesday, June 27


    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

    Former St. Petersburg mayor and current mayoral candidate Rick Baker, left, and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman square off tonight in a debate. [Times]
  4. Once 'angry' about Obamacare, Republican David Jolly came to see it as 'safety net'


    Former Congressman David Jolly, who ran against Obamacare in 2013, said in an interview Monday night that he now considers it a "safety net."

  5. Five children hospitalized after chlorine release at Tampa pool store


    Five children were sickened at a pool store north of Tampa on Monday after a cloud of chlorine was released, according to Hillsborough County Fire Rescue.