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Last summer when St. Augustine property owners began receiving notices of city’s fire assessment fee, some had questions that were easily covered in just a few answers. Since notices for the 2019/2020 Fire Assessment Fee was mailed late last week, the city offers this update to what might again be some of the more frequently asked questions about the fee.
Who pays this fee?
All properties, except some exempt state and federal properties, pay this fee. This means that colleges, churches, non-profits, governments and other properties that do not pay ad valorem taxes (property taxes) are required to pay this Fire Assessment Fee.
Is this a bill I need to pay now?
No, this is a notice letting you know about a proposed fee increase. A public hearing is scheduled for August 12 on this fee increase. If passed, the fee will be included on your annual property tax bill that you receive from the St. Johns County Tax Collector.
My square footage is not as high as what is stated on the notice. Why?
The Fire Assessment Fee is assessed on all portions of a structure with a roof and/or walls. The square footage of your home usually covers only the heated and cooled areas of your home. The square footage on your notice also includes garages, sheds, balconies, screened porches, etc.
How does the city know what my square footage is?
We use data from the St. Johns County Property Appraisers office to determine the assessable square footage of your home. To see your property card and the details of your building, please visit the t St. Johns County Property Appraiser's website and click on the Property Records tab.
Is this a new fee or an increase to an existing fee?
The fee was actually implemented in the early 1990s, but with the City Commission’s goal of having the fee pay for at least half of the fire department’s expenses the fee needed to be increased. A study of the fee was conducted in 2016 and it determined that non-residential structures should pay a higher rate than residential structures based on historical calls for service At that time the fee was $0.06 for all structures and has steadily been adjusted each year so that in 2020 the goal of 50% funding ill be reached.
Upcoming budget meetings
For those who wish to offer input during the City Commission’s budget related meetings, here is a schedule of those meetings.
Monday, August 12, 5:00pm (Regular Meeting): Public hearing on the Fire Assessment Fee proposed increase.
Tuesday, August 20, 9:00am (Special Meeting): Presentation and approval of FY 2020 proposed budget and action items.
Friday, August 23 9:00am (Special Meeting only if needed): Presentation, discussion and approval of proposed FY 2020 proposed budget and action items.
For questions or more information, contact the City of St. Augustine’s office of Budget/Performance Budget at 904-209-4254 or via email.