City Manager Rob Hernandez met with the Chamber’s board of directors last week to discuss the budget he recently proposed including nearly $13 million in reductions in order to make up for predicted shortfalls. One of the solutions he suggests is the removal of fire services from the city’s general fund, to be financed in the future by a fire fee that would be paid by all property owners, including tax-exempt organizations such as non-profits, hospitals, schools and churches.
Private residences for single families would pay a flat fee, while commercial properties will be charged according to the property’s square footage and measures to reduce risk of fire damage. Homeowners would also have the opportunity to reduce their fee by installing smoke detectors, sprinklers, and making other preventative actions. Other reductions may be possible for commercial and church entities.
Alderman in a attendance suggested there is a likely possibility any fire fee would be accompanied by a millage roll-back to some degree. The concepts are expected to be more thoroughly explored during a city budget meeting scheduled for last Thursday and Friday November 30 and December 1.
The Chamber will continue to monitor the development of the 2018 City budget and the progress of the proposed fire fee, and will post updates as they become available.