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The Villages
Saturday, August 6, 2022

You may be surprised by the cost of the new proposed fire district

To the Editor:

Citizens of The Villages have indicated that they support the concept of a new special fire and rescue district and they will get to vote if they want it on the November ballot. This article is not about the potential benefit of having this district only about the potential cost of it. I am writing this to inform that that there has been little information to date on how to figure out what each person could pay to have that fire district. You will need three pieces of information: your home’s Market Value, Land Value, and Taxable Value. All three numbers are available from your property tax record on the county website. https://www.sumterpa.com/record-search/. For illustration purposes we will use a “Designer Home” in The Villages with the following values: Market Value: $539k; Land Value: $154k and Taxable Value: $488k. It is important to note that every household pays a different rate depending on the value of their home.
Currently, fire and rescue service costs are financed on a two-tier system. The first is a direct assessment on each household ($124 a year which is what you see on your tax bill). The second is from general real-estate taxes. The county determines how much it needs in its fire/protection budget and assesses all homes in Sumter county a portion of the total real-estate tax. That real estate fire protection cost amount varies by a household as it is an assessment of 71 cents per thousand dollars of taxable value. So, in our example a home with a taxable value of $488k it would be assessed $346 ( $346k x .71) for a total protection cost of $470 a year ($124 + $346).
The new fire and rescue services will be funded on a three-tier schedule and, according to the Daily Sun, the total cost will be borne by the homeowner in the special fire district. Tier 1 will be the $124 per household as is currently assessed. Tier two will be a direct assessment of the homeowner instead of the county. This assessment is the Market value of the home minus the land value of the home times 75 cents per thousand. In our example the home market value was $539; the land was $154 and the taxable amount was $385k which will be multiplied by 75 cents per thousand for a total cost of $288. To this point, the comparable costs would be $470 to $412. In this case, there would be a reduction in cost. This would mean a special fire district resident would get better service at a lower cost. However, it must be noted that IF the County Supervisors do NOT lower or eliminate their fire protection assessments from the real-estate taxes, the $288 would be an increase in cost. In addition, the fire district has the authority to charge a third tier which would be UP TO 1 dollar per thousand taxable values. In the example $488 x $1 = $488 extra. In a worse case scenario with no country tax relief this taxpayer would pay $124 + $288 + 488 = $900
This year, this taxpayer today pays a maximum of $124 in direct cost and $346 in hidden cost in their real-estate tax for a total of $470. With a special fire district, it could be anything from $412 to $900 depending on house market value, assessment milage, and third-tier discretion costs. The actual cost will probably be somewhere in the middle but it would not be unreasonable to project a cost to the Villager taxpayer higher than today as new governmental organizations start-up and maintenance costs almost always cost more than original estimates.

Charles Vaughan
Village of Sunset Pointe


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