MOORE HAVEN -- Among the agenda items the Glades County Board of Commissioners addressed during its regular meeting July 13 was the unanimous approval of the initial assessment resolution for fire protection services.
This resolution is the next step in the County’s adoption of property assessments for fire services, which is anticipated to earn approximately $892,000 in revenue for fiscal year 2021-2022. It does not include emergency medical services.
Before moving forward, the board discussed what, if any, tax exclusions might be included in the resolution and of what type.
County Attorney Richard W. Pringle told commissioners three exclusion categories are typically government, institutional and agricultural properties. If the board accepts those exemptions, revenue could drop to about $810,000 if amounts of approximately $40,000 were permitted for government agencies which would include schools, $18,000 for institutional and $25,000 for agricultural which is outlined as vacant land and pole farms.
Pringle pointed out that there are other exclusions the board could explore as long as they were supported by Florida statue such as non-profit entities for disability, military or police widow support groups. The board can also consider individual residential hardship cases.
Taxes for non-exempt properties are estimated at $121 per residential dwelling unit, with non-residential units taxed at 4 cents per square foot and vacant land at $17.55 per tax parcel.
Pringle said he would provide the board with a list of different exemptions to be considered and finalized on the commissioner’s July meeting to be presented to the public next month for a final adoption.
Collecting the tax could be problematic if a resident or business chose not to pay the tax at all, he said. While liens could be applied to those properties, Pringle suggested the cost of suing a non-paying entity would cost more than the amount of tax due, making recovery a challenge.
Another caveat is should revenues fall short of expectations, the County must draw the difference from its General Fund.
“We have no recourse,” if someone doesn’t pay, said Commissioner Donna Storter Long.
Long wanted the board to have time to consider which exemptions to offer before finalizing the resolution.
“What are other options if we don’t do it now?”
Pringle said as long as the public is notified of proposed changes after its final public adoption, exemptions can be changed at the will of the commission by notifying the public via mailers or including notifications with tax bills.
Commissioners scheduled the public hearing for 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 23, at the Doyle Conner Building, 900 US-27, in Moore Haven.