To the editor:
Most of us respect the fire department and appreciate the work that they do on Pine Island and the surrounding area. However, on Aug. 26 we have a primary election and there will be a referendum on the ballot that is proposing a 25 percent increase in the millage amount for fire service. If I were to raise my rates 25 percent my business would suffer, how can they justify this type of increase? This is a huge rate increase for fire protection on top of a 16 percent increase for insurance this year. Please keep in mind that our property values have been increasing, so with the rate increase and the property value increase this could end up causing an even larger tax increase. Remember that the property value amount that is used for the calculation of the tax is not reduced by the homestead exemption amount.
I was not able to find any information about the referendum on the website for the MPIFCD, pineislandfire.org, so I do not know what they plan to do with these additional funds. It is estimated that, if passed, this will generate $900,000 in additional revenues each year according to a local publication. It is likely to generate more money than that as our property values increase.
Ellen C. Garten
St. James City