In 2013, the City adopted a non-ad valorem assessment (Fire Service Assessment) to defray a portion of the annual operating and capital costs associated with the Haines City Fire Department. The City Commission’s goal was to put in place a supplemental and alternative means to deal with the previous budget shortfall of 2.4 million dollars through the adoption of assessment rates that could remain reasonable and flexible, and that might be changed efficiently, over time. By considering City policies, practices, the annual fire department budget, the City’s overall budget, and other economic conditions, our community will continue to make fire protection services and facilities available while showing financial stewardship until property values rise again. Accordingly, provision of fire services, facilities, and improvements will, in all likelihood, continue in ensuing years to be funded, in part, by special fire service assessments levied on property located within the City limits. The remainder of the fire protection budget can then be funded with other legally available revenues (most of which are property taxes) of the City. This is a challenging balancing process and must be addressed annually.
The FY 2016-17 rates of assessment shown below are the maximum rates the City can impose for next year. The special assessments for each parcel of property are based on the same benefits or burdens analysis as last year. They are associated with the continual availability of fire protection services and facilities to all tax parcels within the City. The City will assess properties based on the same two-tier rate structure as last year, which was the subject of judicial approval prior to the initial bill for collection being sent for FY 2013-14. Tier 1 is based on the relative improvements value associated with each tax parcel and is focused on variable, and possibly some, fixed costs. Tier 2 is a fixed assessment rate per tax parcel focused on fixed costs. If you wish to learn more, a more detailed description of the assessment program is available in City Ordinance No. 13-1045, Resolution No. 13-1048, Resolution No. 14-1100. Please note, revenue from the Fire Service Assessment can only be used to fund the Haines City Fire Department, as required by law.
On June 16, 2016, the City Commission held its annual public hearing for the purpose of receiving comments on the proposed assessments.
Each parcel of property assigned an identification number by the Polk County Property Appraiser is considered one (1) tax parcel. The rate of assessment for each tax parcel for FY 2016-17 will be the sum of (i) one dollar and two cents ($1.02) per $1,000 of the value of improvements attributed to the tax parcel by the Polk County Property Appraiser (Tier 1), plus (ii) $139.93 per tax parcel (Tier 2), together with (iii) a collection charge of $5.00.
The dollar amount attributed to each and every tax parcel in the City and other information concerning the proposed Fire Service Assessment is available online (see Fire Service Assessment Search below) or accessible upon inquiry at the office of the City Clerk, at City Hall. The total revenue the City expects to collect by the assessment (exclusive of statutory discounts, amounts payable to Property Appraiser and Tax Collector) is approximately 1.9 million dollars. This annual assessment is for the purpose of funding the continual readiness and availability of essential services and capital facilities and equipment associated with fire protection
Fire Service Assessment Search
View the dollar amount of the special assessment attributable to each tax parcel via the link below or visit the Finance Department, located at City Hall, 620 E. Main Street, Haines City, Florida 33844. You can search and review any parcel by owner name, parcel address, or property identification number.
Fire Service Assessment Payments
Until paid, the fire assessment will constitute a lien against assessed property equal in rank and dignity with the liens of all state, county, district, or municipal taxes and other non-ad valorem assessments. Assessments become delinquent in the same manner as for unpaid taxes, and failure to pay the upcoming assessment will cause a tax certificate to be issued against the property which may result in loss of title.
Fire Service Assessments are the Responsibility of the City Commission
The Fire Service Assessments are imposed and levied by the City Commission, not the Property Appraiser or Tax Collector. Any activity of the Property Appraiser or Tax Collector associated with the Assessment process is solely ministerial. The patience, work and responsibilities of these local County officials are greatly appreciated as they carry out their constitutional and general law duties; so please keep in mind that these local County officials have no policy responsibility with regards to the City’s Fire Service Assessments, or the method of apportionment, the fire protection budget, the annual rates imposed, or collection and enforcement procedures employed.
The City is actively soliciting feedback about the funding of essential services in Haines City. We encourage you to take a quick survey about assessment programs by choosing the link shown here.
If you have questions about the Fire Service Assessment, you may email firstname.lastname@example.org.