Fire departments seek increased property tax assessments

Posted on August 20, 2018 by Staff reports

 Notices of proposed property taxes will be arriving in Santa Rosa County mailboxes soon, and this year’s TRIM notices include a requested increased fire assessment for county residences, businesses and vacant land located within the fire districts of Allentown, Bagdad, Berrydale, East Milton, Harold, Jay, Munson, Pace and Skyline as well as Navarre Beach.
Municipal Service Benefit Unit (MSBU) funding for fire districts has remained the same since 2007 during which time the county has seen record growth, putting a strain on departments as they try to keep up with the increased demand for emergency services including increasing personnel and equipment cost.
“Call volumes for our fire departments have increased 37 percent since 2011 and we have more than $2 million in apparatus that is now more than 10 years old,” explained Brad Baker, Santa Rosa County emergency management director. “With the unprecedented growth we’ve seen in the county, we’ve had to add shifts, hire additional personnel and add new fire stations to accommodate the increase in residents – and more is needed.”
The assessments requested for MSBU-funded fire districts in the north end of Santa Rosa County range by square footage and start at $103 per residence up to 2700 sq. ft. and $155 for those 2700 sq. ft and greater, while commercial (non-residential) rates are $.038 per sq. ft. and vacant land will be $13 per parcel. The Navarre Beach fire district assessment rate categories are $500 per dwelling unit, $0.41 per sq. ft. for commercial property and $63 per parcel for vacant land.
A public hearing on MSBU adjustments will be held Sept. 11, 6 p.m., at the Santa Rosa County Administrative Center boardroom, 6495 Caroline Street in Milton. The “Truth In Millage” (TRIM) law was designed to inform property owners of their rights as taxpayers and the Santa Rosa County property appraiser mails TRIM notices to every property owner of record each year in mid-August. Communities not affected by the MSBU fire assessment rules include Midway, Holley-Navarre, Avalon-Mulat, Whiting Field and the cities of Gulf Breeze and Milton.
For information on exemptions and other questions, visit or call the Emergency Management Office, 850-983-5360.