WMFR 2019-20 assessment rates set

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BRADENTON – West Manatee Fire Rescue commissioners held a public hearing May 21 to discuss the 2019-20 residential and commercial assessment rates. No members of the public offered comment, and commissioners approved a modest increase in rates with a four to one vote.

After being presented with five options ranging from a zero percent increase to a 2.5 percent increase, commissioners voted to adopt a 1.65 percent increase for residential properties and a 5 percent increase for commercial properties.

For residential property owners, the 1.65 increase equals a $3.09 increase in the base rate, increasing from $187.48 to $190.57. The rate per square foot, assessed on home square footage over 1,000 square feet, is being raised from $0.1106 to $0.1124. For a 2,000 square foot home, the total assessment is being raised from $298.08 to $303, a difference of $1.92.

Residential homes make up the majority of the properties in WMFR’s district, which stretches from the Gulf of Mexico on the west, Tampa Bay to the north, Longboat Key to the south and city of Bradenton to the east. The district includes unincorporated Manatee County, Palma Sola, Cortez, Bradenton Beach, Anna Maria and Holmes Beach.

For commercial properties, the increase is slightly higher to bring WMFR’s commercial rates closer to those assessed by other Manatee County fire districts. The base rate is increasing from $451.07 to $473.62 for commercial properties, an increase of $22.55. The per square foot rate for buildings over 1,000 square feet is $0.2051, a $0.0098 increase for square footage over 1,000 square feet. The increase equals a $32.32 total increase for 2,000 square foot commercial properties.

With the increase in assessment rates, WMFR’s projected assessment revenue for the 2019-20 fiscal year is $7,285,989, a $144,203 increase over the current fiscal year.

Commissioner Al Robinson, who voted against the rate increase, said, “I think it’s insignificant in a $7.3 million dollar budget. We don’t need a raise.”

Commissioner George Harris said he was comfortable raising the commercial rates to get the district more in line with the surrounding districts but was happy to only give residents a minimal increase. “It’s nice to give the residents a little break,” he said.

With the rate increases, WMFR’s projected total revenue for the 2019-20 fiscal year is $7,618,556. The new fiscal year begins on October 1.

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