The City of Milton's Finance Committee unanimously approved establishing a fire assessment fee to be administered within city limits during this week's executive committee meeting.
The City of Milton’s Finance Committee unanimously approved establishing a fire assessment fee to be administered within city limits during this week’s executive committee meeting.
Council member Jimmy Messick, who serves as the chair for the finance committee, said the details on the fire assessments are still to be worked out, however last week’s vote was only approval for establishing a fee system. The committee item will be part of the consent agenda for Tuesday night’s regular council meeting.
City Manager Brian Watkins presented some examples of how fee methodology, using formulas of current assessments from the county’s property appraiser’s office, would work for residents, property owners and business owners.
“A vacant property would be $31, that would be their annual assessment,” Watkins said. “Residential units the average cost would be $36.91.”
The average assessment for retail businesses would be around $45 as an example. Watkins said the fees are only examples and could change before presented to council for approval.
As far as the cost establishing process, Watkins said the fee would be utilized to benefit the non-personnel costs to the city’s fire department, which totals $110,000 and a fire truck lease payment.
Milton Fire Chief John Reble said the fire assessment option would provide funding for the department without using the city’s reserve.
“I see it as a very good way to go,” Reble said. “I think it is going to be a good thing.”
Reble said the option would greatly benefit the department, especially concerning first response vehicles.
“It puts us in a position with a solid funding source where we can start locking down scheduling of replacement (vehicles),” he said. “I got a rescue vehicle that is 14 years old and it is fast approaching where it needs replacement.”
Being how the fire department is part of the city’s fiscal budget, Reble said the fire assessment would also assist the city which regularly deals with a tight budget.
“You have a bunch of conflicting priorities and (the fire department) is just one of many,” he said. “It is going to make that process easier for the city as a whole, because fire trucks are among the most expensive vehicles we buy in the city.”
Reble said his department has also previously received positive feedback from the community in regards to paying a fire assessment fee.
“A lot folks wouldn’t mind,” he said. “They appreciate the level of service they have and they want to make sure that is maintained.”