FORT MYERS, Fla.- The city of Ft. Myers is considering fire assessments on property owners to raise money for the coming budget year. The city faces a shortfall of at least $11 million in an $83 million budget.
"These fees would affect every real estate owner - residential and commercial," said councilman Forrest Banks. "I know people are hurting, but everyone is hurting.City government is hurting and we have to provide services. We have to find a way to pay for those services the people want."
The fees could amount to 80 to about 150 dollars for an average home in the city. The fees would be payable, on top of property taxes.
The fees would raise up to $5.2 million a year. Some of that would go to the fire department, some would go to other parts of the city budget.
"I don't like it one bit. It is a tax, and a regressive one at that," said Stephen Ward, a homeowner in the city. "It makes me angry and frustrated that they are looking for a new revenue stream, because they have not been able to reduce spending enough."
The city council had a workshop on the budget, and the possible fire fees, last week. Council members will decide in the coming week, whether to move ahead with the fire assessments.