Local News

AP eyes reduced fire assessment fees

AVON PARK - It's a different way of crunching the numbers, but most residents and business would pay less under the proposed new methodology to determine the city's fire assessment fees.

The new proposed methodology switches from a "demand" for service to an "availability" for service algorithm.

"The majority of city residents and businesses will see a reduction in the fire assessment," City Manager Julian Deleon said Friday. About 95 percent will have a lower assessment.

The fire assessment methodology is part of the agenda for Monday's city council meeting.

Deleon included on the agenda a few examples of the lower rates.

A nursing home that is currently paying an annual fire assessment of $39,900 would pay $7,096. Wells Motor Company's rate would decrease from $2,661 to $2,056. The DevTech business would see a reduction from $715 to $238. The mayor's (Sharon Schuler) fee would drop from $165 to $121.

The Crystal Lake community, which is slated to be annexed by Avon Park, would have paid about $90,000 under the current fire assessment fee structure, Deleon said. Under the proposed methodology the community would have a $13,480 annual fire assessment fee.

Currently the city is collecting about $930,000 annually through the fire assessment.

Deleon noted that he is proposing to collect less funding under the new proposal and making up the $275,000 shortfall with contingency or un-budgeted dollars the city is currently collecting.

Under the existing fee schedule those who own an empty lot paid no fire assessment, but that would change under the proposal.

"This new methodology implements a flat $40 charge per empty lot regardless of lot size," Deleon said.

Council is scheduled to vote Monday on moving forward with the new methodology.

If the council later approves a new fee schedule it would go into effect in the 2014-15 fiscal year.

Also, on Monday's council meeting agenda, Mayor Sharon Schuler and Councilman Parke Sutherland, who won reelection Nov. 5, will be sworn into their new three-year terms. The council will appoint a deputy mayor.

The council will consider the appointment of Joe Wright to the Police Pension Board.

The community redevelopment agency board will meet at 5 p.m., Monday, and consider the Heartland Cultural Alliance's proposal to use the second floor of the Community Center as a museum/gallery for the artworks of Peter Powell Roberts.

The city council will meet at 6 p.m., Monday.