Open Forum in The Villages, Florida

Last Public Meeting on Fire Services Funding with Kathleen Gowin on March 25, 2PM at Ezell

March 19, 2024 Mike Roth & Guests Season 5 Episode 11
Open Forum in The Villages, Florida
Last Public Meeting on Fire Services Funding with Kathleen Gowin on March 25, 2PM at Ezell
Open Forum in The Villages, Florida
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Show Notes Transcript

 In today's special episode of Open Forum in the Villages, Florida, I have a special guest, Kathleen Gowin. Kathleen is a member of the VPSDDD. That is the new board that's managing the fire district here in Sumter County 

Unlock the secrets to potentially lower fire district taxes in Sumter County's slice of the Villages, Florida, with board member Kathleen Gowin guiding us through the intricacies of the proposed changes. If you're a local homeowner or business owner, this episode is your roadmap to understanding how the new fire assessment methodology could streamline expenses and lock in rates for the next five years. Kathleen illuminates the critical details behind the upcoming March 25th meeting, the third and final chance for public enlightenment on this pressing topic.

Join the conversation at the Ezell Recreation Center or tune in to our episode to catch Kathleen's expertise on the existing tax structure and the promising benefits of the new approach. This isn't just about numbers—it's about the future of our community's emergency services and how we can all play a role in the March 25th board meeting and beyond, Kathleen's insights are indispensable for residents eager to stay informed and possibly save on their bills while ensuring the necessary funding for our brave firefighters and EMTs.

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Open Forum in The Villages, Florida is Produced & Directed by Mike Roth
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Mike Roth:

In today's special episode of Open Forum in the Villages, Florida, I have a special guest, Kathleen Goen. Kathleen is a member of the VPSDDD. That is the new board that's managing the fire district here in Sumter County. Thanks for joining me, Kathleen.

Kathleen Gowin:

You're welcome Nice to be here. Thank you.

Mike Roth:

I understand you have a meeting coming up this Monday, march 25th, to discuss the proposal of methodology to assess the fire district taxes here in Sumter County. Kathleen, why don't you share with our listeners briefly how that new methodology is supposed to work?

Kathleen Gowin:

I'd be happy to Mike and, by the way, this is the last of three meetings, informational meetings that have been done for the general public to come and learn about the new proposed methodology. And let me point out, this new fire district assessment only applies to residents of the villages who live in Sumter County.

Mike Roth:

It does not apply to Marion or Lake County.

Kathleen Gowin:

Marion and Lake County have a separate approach that they use. So this again in the largest percentage of village residents are in Sumter County.

Mike Roth:

And where is this? It is limited, yes. And where is this meeting going to be held? On Monday?

Kathleen Gowin:

This meeting is on Monday, March 25th, at two o'clock in the afternoon at the Ezell Recreation Center, and that's down near Sawgrass Grove.

Mike Roth:

Yeah, I think a lot of people know where Ezell is because of Sawgrass Grove, the fire district taxes as they currently exist. Why don't you explain that to people?

Kathleen Gowin:

I'd be glad to. First of all, every parcel in the villages in Sumter County pays a flat rate of $125 per year and then a portion of the dvalorum Ad valorum valorum property taxes that we pay that is collected by Sumter County is then passed over to the Public Safety Department to run the fire department and that represents about 1.1 mils of your property tax rate. Or said another way, that's $1.31 for every $1,000 of assessed valuation.

Mike Roth:

Good.

Kathleen Gowin:

So a Sumter County resident in the villages needs to add those two amounts together to determine how much they pay under the current method. Support, fire and EMS for the villages in Sumter County.

Mike Roth:

And what is the new method that the consultant is proposing for the county?

Kathleen Gowin:

And Mike. That's why I'd like to invite residents to come here. The proposal, because the consultant is recommending a different approach. First, every parcel would pay the same amount for what's called readiness, that's just having all of the fire stations open and running, all of the fire engines working and all the ambulances ready to go. Then there would be a second amount that would pay for the incremental cost of having those fire station ambulances and fire engines. And then there's a small, a very small piece that'll be in your ad valorem taxes. That covers those properties in Sumter County that are exempt from assessment. So that's things like hospitals and schools, maybe some not-for-profit organizations.

Mike Roth:

This new methodology proposed, would that represent for the average homeowner an increase or a decrease in their fire taxes?

Kathleen Gowin:

For almost every homeowner and, by the way, for almost every commercial business in the villages in Sumter County. This new methodology is actually less than what we're paying under the current approach and for people who come to this informational meeting on Monday at EZEL at two o'clock, they'll get to hear how this is all put together. The other thing I might add this new approach will also fix the amount of the assessment for the next five years. So we won't have any changes in the assessment amount for the next five years.

Mike Roth:

That means for the rating, this fee or the other fees. Those are all going to be fixed for five years. Yes, that sounds like a good thing, and taxes going down sounds like a good thing Right Now. What is the approval process for the consultants?

Kathleen Gowin:

So the consultants have already proposed it to the fire district board. They did that in March, so this week is when we're finishing up the last of the informational meetings for the general public. Then at the next fire district board meeting, which is on April 10th, then the board will vote whether to approve or not approve the consultants approach.

Mike Roth:

So if they approve it, what happens then?

Kathleen Gowin:

Then in the month of May, then the fire district board will have a budget workshop and part of that workshop is to determine how many ambulances are going to be needed in the future. Then in June, that's when the first group of letters go out to all the homeowners and businesses with what their proposed assessment will be, and so at the June 12th meeting the board will be looking at the assessment roles and the final presentation. That's also going to be a public hearing. And then finally, in July, fire district board will prepare its budget and send it over to the county by July 15th to meet that deadline. Okay.

Mike Roth:

Do the county commissioners have a final yay or nay vote on this budget?

Kathleen Gowin:

Yes, the county commissioners will either vote to approve it or deny it. They do not have a line item veto power, so they'll accept the package either as it exists in whole, or they declined the entire package, and that'll happen in July or maybe August, I'm not sure when the county board has its meeting.

Mike Roth:

Okay, and if the fire district disapproves the proposal from the consultant, what happens then?

Kathleen Gowin:

Then we're back to the drawing board to take another look at how we would approach the methodology and beyond that. I couldn't tell you what that would play out to because I'm not that familiar with how district government works to know what we would do. But we have a hard deadline of July 15th to have our budget the fire district budget to the county commissioners for approval or rejection. And how much did we?

Mike Roth:

spend for this consultant.

Kathleen Gowin:

Mike, I don't know that number off the top of my head, sorry Not a problem.

Mike Roth:

I'm sure it'll come out in the hearing if people show up. I want to thank you for being with us and again remind our listeners when the meeting is and where it is.

Kathleen Gowin:

The last and final public information meeting related to the new methodology for the fire district for Sumter County residents, for the villages, will be held on Monday 25th at two o'clock pm At t Ezell e e Center Recreation Center. Thank you very much Kathleen kathleen Mike Thank you, mike.