Fire Department "tax"

I am not opposed to the idea of using a fee to keep a steady revenue stream to the Fort Walton Beach Fire Department.

The way I thought of it and was presented earlier in the year was that it would “smooth out” the revenue stream for the department, and I assumed it would be revenue neutral but it is anything but revenue neutral. The 2019-2020 City Draft Budget reveals a 20% increase in expenditures for the department and a 13% increase in overall City expenditures. How and why such the large increases?

Part of the answer is the Fire “fee” which has added $2.5 million to the City coffers with no other revenue offset. How this was handled by the City Manager and Council stinks.

The fee for the Fire Department was already baked into the 2019-2020 City Draft Budget before the current hearings. Shouldn’t the fee have been approved first allowing the public to comment on it rather than ram it through in panic because it was already written into the budget?

So I’m resigned that this “tax” will be rammed through but as the Daily News reported it is only for one year. If so, Council and Manager, next year please explain thoroughly to us how the money shell game will be played.

Phil Gallmeier, Fort Walton Beach