Local taxpayers need to be aware of an effort being undertaken to raise your fire taxes! Commissioners in the Greater Naples Fire District recently approved a motion to place a significant tax increase on the ballot. I was the lone dissenting vote. Thanks to push back from citizens, as Chairman of the Commission, I was able to bring the matter up for reconsideration, at which time the initiative was narrowly defeated by a 3-2 vote. Now there is an effort underway to defeat me in the November election and elect a candidate who has promised to support the tax increase effort.
The Greater Naples Fire District is an independent governing agency that provides fire protection and rescue services to about half of Collier County. There is a board of five elected commissioners that sets policy for the district. Note that the taxes are for fire protection and rescue services only. Collier EMS is a separate entity that receives its funding through taxes and fees for services.
The Greater Naples Fire District receives its funding through Ad Valorem taxes on property in its borders, currently capped by law at 1.5 mils. The proposed effort was to increase the tax cap to 2.0 mils. Tax bills and the cost of the proposed increase for typical homes are as follows:
HOME VALUE CURRENT CAP PROPOSED CAP
$300,000- $450 $600
$400,000- $600 $800
$500,000- $750 $ 1,000
$600,000- $900 $1,200
As shown below, the fire district has received large revenue increases over the years, mainly due to new construction and the increasing values of properties within the district. In fact, revenue through taxes has basically doubled since 2016! The 2022-23 budget cycle is even better as the fire district is receiving a whopping 19.26% increase in ad Valorem revenue! That translates to nearly $7,000,000 in additional revenue to the district, just this year alone!
The fire district does not have a revenue, problem, it has a spending problem. Current commissioners have repeatedly voted to increase operating expenses, even when the Fire Chief has advised against doing so. I am frequently the lone dissenting vote on the board when it comes to unnecessary spending. Despite record revenue increases, the district is needlessly spending money from reserves. This is simply bad public policy. Please stand with me and demand accountability and efficiency from your fire district.