Question: What is Lake County's present Residential Fire Assessment Fee?
Answer: The current fee is $193 for Fire Protection. This fee is used for firefighters' salaries, as well as to buy necessary equipment and to pay for operating expenses such as fuel and health insurance. Property owners pay this flat fee once a year, no matter how many times the fire department is called to their home or property for assistance.
Question: Will additional fire assessment fees supplement a decrease in property taxes?
Answer: No, the fire assessment fees are separate from the County's property tax revenue. Tax cuts or increases do not affect fire fees, which are used to pay for Fire Rescue operating expenses.
Question: How many firefighters does Lake County have?
Answer: The Lake County Fire Rescue Division has 213 uniformed personnel with 204 assigned to 24/7 shifts at the fire stations. The remaining staff serve on days in command and/or support functions.
Question: Are these additional fees going to be used to build a fire station in my neighborhood?
Answer: Assessment fees are used for personnel and operating expenses. The fire impact fee pays for capital items, such as the construction of a new fire stations. Impact fees are one-time charges on all development and are paid when a project goes through the County permitting process. The fire services impact fee is only charged on projects located in areas served by the Lake County Fire Rescue Division. All proposed improvements are designed to contribute to the maximum credit possible in order to reduce Lake County’s Insurance Services Office (ISO) Public Fire Protection Risk Classification, which helps continue to reduce fire insurance rates for both residential and commercial properties. For more information about the methodology for selecting locations for new fire stations, call the Lake County Public Safety Department at 352-343-9458.
Question: Can I get some help paying this bill?
Answer: Save on your property tax bill by taking of advantage of the discounts for early payment. If a property tax bill is paid in November, the property owner receives a 4 percent discount. For each month that passes, the savings decreases by one percentage point until March when the full amount is due. Residents may also qualify for Hardship Assistance for Fire Rescue Assessments. Low-income individuals who meet eligibility requirements may receive assistance with solid waste and fire assessment fees. This service is available annually from Nov. 1 to March 31. For more information, call 352-742-6501.
Question: I don't pay taxes now, due to homestead exemption. Will I have to pay this special assessment?
Answer: Yes, special assessments are different from taxes, and these assessment fees apply to all residential property, regardless of homestead exemption.
Question: I receive a discount for early payment of taxes. Will I receive the same discount on my special assessment?
Answer: Yes, the same discount applies.
Question: What is the difference between the FIRE MSTU and FIRE Non-Ad Valorem Assessment?
Answer: The FIRE MSTU pays for Advanced Life Support provided by the fire department.
The FIRE Non-Ad Valorem Assessment pays for fire protection services, such as fire suppression, fire prevention, fire building inspections and Basic Life Support services.
For more information about fire assessment fees, call the Lake County Budget Office at 352-343-9465.