1.1% increase in Sarasota County fire assessment rate for 2020 fiscal year to be focus of public meetings

Public invited to hour-long programs, which will focus on how assessments and property tax revenue are used for enhancements to fire service

Fire Chief Mike Regnier. File photo

The Sarasota County Emergency Services Department staff is inviting the public to learn about fire assessment rates and the department’s requests for fire station improvements and equipment upgrades, which are included in the proposed 2020 county budget. That budget includes an assessment increase of 1.1%, the county has announced.

“To keep up with the growing demand for services to residential and non-residential locations, Emergency Services [staff] continually pursues areas of enhancements in the level of services provided by the fire department,” a news release explains. Each year, fire assessment rates and property tax revenue are evaluated as part of the budgetary process in an effort to ensure sufficient annual funding is available for fire protection service for the community, the release adds.

Sarasota County Fire Chief Michael Regnier says requests for enhancements are based on the department’s Strategic Master Plan. For the 2020 fiscal year, they are focused on more staff, construction of a new fire station, renovation of two existing stations, advancements in technology “and a thorough review of service delivery,” the release points out.

Residents may attend any or all of the following public meetings to learn more about the proposed increase in the fire assessment rate and the methodology used to arrive at that, the release says. Residents may provide comments or ask questions. The meetings have been planned to last one hour, beginning at 6 p.m., on the following dates:

  • Aug. 29: Betty J. Johnson North Sarasota Public Library, located at 2801 Newtown Blvd. in Sarasota.
  • Sept. 3: Fire Station No. 16, located at 5875 Hummingbird Ave. in Sarasota.
  • Sept. 5: William H. Jervey Jr. Venice Public Library, located at 300 Nokomis Ave. S. in Venice.
  • Sept. 10: Gulf Gate Public Library, located at 7112 Curtiss Ave. in Sarasota.

“Fire assessments are the primary funding mechanism for the provision of fire protection services in unincorporated areas of Sarasota County and the City of Sarasota,” the release explains. The assessments are based on the square footage of a building; charges are imposed against real property, the release notes. On Sept. 11, the Sarasota County Commission will vote on the final fire assessment rates for the 2020 fiscal year.

For more information call the county Contact Center at 861-5000 or visit scgov.net.