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Nassau County decides against Fire Tax

3:52 PM, Jul 2, 2013   |    comments
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NASSAU COUNTY, Fla. -- Nassau County residents won't be billed $217 a year for fire rescue services, county officials said Tuesday.

Assistant County Manager Shanea Jones said the board cancelled its fire tax consulting contract with Government Services Group of Tallahassee, effectively putting a lid on the push to institute a fire tax.

The fire tax was predicted to generate at least $7 million, a sum that would have helped the Nassau County Commission plug an expected budget hole of nearly $12 million. It was one of a list of options the county's budget staff presented commissioners with to offset the shortfall.

Instead, the board agreed Monday to hike the millage rate by half a mill -- a measure good for about $3 million of the $11.6 million needed, Jones said. 

Commissioners plan to get the rest of the figure using a blend of 75 percent of the county's penny sales tax revenues, about $5.2 million, and reserve funds to the tune of $3.4 million.

The board is mulling a range of options to balance its budget without raising taxes. Commissioners Pat Edwards and Steve Kelley have said they are open to delaying some of the construction projects on the county's five-year Capital Improvement Plan. 

There is more than $15 million set aside for future projects in the plan.

Commissioners are faced with a $11.6 million shortfall in the county's operating budget, with the board expected to spend $49 million and take in just $40 million. 

Jones has said the shortfall is due to falling property values, which have plummeted since the height of the housing boom in 2008.

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