Beedie confirmed that he and Fire Chief Ray Perkins will address the proposed fire fees at 8 a.m. at the chamber office at 34 Miracle Strip Parkway S.E.

FORT WALTON BEACH — The controversial issue of creating a municipal fire fee will be the topic Monday morning when City Manager Michael Beedie is the guest of the greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce's Community Perspectives Committee.

Beedie confirmed that he and Fire Chief Ray Perkins will address the proposed fire fees at 8 a.m. at the chamber office at 34 Miracle Strip Parkway S.E.

The City Council voted 6-1 in late August in favor of establishing the fee for a year and using the proceeds to offset Fire Department expenses the city would otherwise have to pay.

This, it is anticipated, will allow the city to hire more firefighters and more police officers, among other things.

A second reading of the ordinance is scheduled for the City Council’s regularly scheduled meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.

Anticipated fire fee rates would be $160 per residential unit, 17 cents per square foot for each commercial property and 4 cents per square foot for each industrial/warehouse property.

The fee would be included on property owners’ monthly utility bills, with each residential property owner being billed $13.33 per month for the potential $160 charge. After a year, a vote from the City Council will be required to renew the fee.

Schools, churches, nonprofits and other institutional properties would be exempt from the fee.

Unlike ad valorem taxes, the fees would provide a stable revenue stream unaffected by fluctuating property values or property tax exemptions, according to city officials.

Shalimar Mayor Mark Franks, this year’s chairman of the Chamber of Commerce Community Perspective Committee, said he decided to set up the morning meeting with Beedie to provide an opportunity to discuss the issue before Tuesday’s council meeting.

“It’s a very hot topic right now. I’m hearing about it everywhere I go,” he said. “I just want to give residents a chance to hear what he has to say and to ask to give their perspective.”