Sebring Fire Department

The Sebring City Council discussed increasing the fire assessment for the 2022-23 fiscal year.

SEBRING — The Sebring City Council discussed increasing the fire assessment with the rates adjusted in accordance with a recent study of the historical demand or fire department services.

Government Services Group, Inc. conducted a study of the historical demand for the city’s fire department services. The previous study was performed in 2015.

Sandi Neubarth, with GSG, said since 2015 the residential calls went down, but the calls for service went up in all the other categories.

Currently, the annual fire assessment is at the 25% level, which means the rates that residents, and different properties and businesses pay, totals 25% of the city’s Fire Department budget.

Council President Tom Dettman said with prices rising this is a very difficult time. On the other end, he continued, because of the rising costs in gasoline, building materials, etc. the city has to put out that much more money as well.

He figures a slight increase in the rate is necessary.

“I think we need to stay on course, as we have before, which is to offset what it would have been if it was included in the annual budget,” Dettman said.

He recommended going to the 20.3% level.

Councilman Mark Stewart said he agrees. It would be a $14 residential increase per year, but the reality is the city is spending $562 for every call according to the study, which is quite a bargain.

Council Pro-tempore Lenard Carlisle said he agrees. Everybody pays the fire assessment, but everybody doesn’t pay ad valorem taxes. So by doing this, everybody is affected.

The Fire Department’s budget is increasing in fiscal year 2022-23, which includes a large capital expense for a new engine. Despite the proposed assessment increase, the assessment revenue would cover a smaller percentage of the department’s budget, from 25% to 20.3%.

Currently, the annual residential fire assessment is $101.

The current non-residential rates per square foot are: commercial, 4 cents; industrial/warehouse, 1 cent; institutional, 5 cents, and nursing home, 33 cents.

The rate per square foot is capped at 179,400 square feet.

The current vacant land rate is $8 per parcel.

At the proposed 20.3% rate, the annual residential fire assessment would be $115.

The non-residential rates per square foot would be: commercial, 5 cents; industrial/warehouse, 2 cents; institutional, 7 cents, and nursing homes, 81 cents.

Vacant land would be $17 per parcel.

Council will adopt the initial fire assessment resolution on July 5.

Notices of the public hearing will be mailed on July 26.

Council will have the public hearing and adopt the final assessment resolution on Aug. 16.

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