ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - During a public hearing Thursday night on the 2013 Fiscal Year Budget, St. Petersburg City Council voted against a Fire Readiness Fee that was approved back to July. It came after a number of people spoke against it during the comment period. Many said they would rather see their property taxes increase than see the fire fee implemented.
"It ignores the reality of the lives of many of our poorest citizens. I do not want to see something imposed that would be regressive and puts a higher burden on those who have the least," said a resident at the meeting.
Under the proposed fire fee, property owners would have paid a flat fee of $50 per parcel and 0.21 per $1,000 of the appraised structural value.
The city is facing a $10 million budget shortfall next year and the fee was a way proposed to help close the gap.
Council has now proposed raising the millage rate from 5.9125 to 6.7742. That would mean an additional $86 per $100,000 of assessed value. Going into the meeting Thursday, Mayor Bill Foster was originally proposing a rate of 6.0351, to generate the same revenue the city received this year in property taxes.
Numbers could still change however. The next public hearing is set for September 27th, which is when the budget needs to be finalized and adopted. The fire fee is not expected to be brought up again.