Fire district increases assessments, spending for 2020-21

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Hall Architect’s rendering of the planned WMFR administration building. WMFR commissioners voted Sept. 8 to budget $1,451,000 in the 2020-21 fiscal year to fund the plans. Islander Courtesy Photo: West Manatee Fire Rescue

The West Manatee Fire Rescue district’s budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year is in the books.

WMFR commissioners voted 4-1 Sept. 8 to adopt a $9,410,362 budget for the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.

Commissioner Al Robinson voted “no,” citing his concerns with plans for funding a new administration building.

Behind $6,427,671.81 for wages and benefits, the next largest expense is $1,451,000 to build the administrative headquarters at 701 63rd St. W., Bradenton.

Hall Architects designed the 3,879-square-foot building to withstand hurricane-force wind, contain nine offices and a conference room and serve as an operations center during emergencies.

The lot was purchased in September 2019 for $295,000.

The construction will be funded with $1,675,000 from reserves gained by selling the previous administration building.

Robinson said the district was misusing taxpayer money by choosing not to purchase a cheaper, suitable property, which he identified.

“We’re building a $2 million building for nine offices, when we’re in a building right now that’s adequate,” Robinson said. “We have lost our minds and we’re spending the taxpayers’ money.”

Commissioner Larry Jennis argued that the property Robinson suggested buying isn’t suitable for the headquarters because it lacks parking and a staging area and would need to be modified to withstand hurricane-force winds.

“It just didn’t fit our needs,” Jennis said.

Most of the district’s budgeted expenses will be covered by $7,519,795 collected from tax assessments in 2020-21.

To help cover remaining costs, WMFR voted in May to increase next year’s assessment by 2.6%.

The district’s current residential rates include a $190.57 base rate, as well as an additional $0.1124 for every square foot over 1,000 square feet. The owner of a 2,000-square-foot home was assessed $302.97 this year.

With the 2.6% increase, the base rate for residential buildings will be $195.53, with an additional $0.1153 for every square foot over 1,000. Residential property owners with a 2,000-square-foot home will pay $310.85.

The district assesses commercial buildings at a different rate, including a $473.62 base rate and an additional $0.2051 for every square foot over 1,000. The owner of a 2,000-square-foot commercial space would have paid $678.72 in the current fiscal year.

Under the new rates, the commercial base rate for assessments increases to $485.94, with an additional $0.2104 for every square foot over 1,000. The owner of a 2,000-square-foot commercial space now will pay $696.37 in assessment costs.

There was no public comment.


Revenues 2019-20 Budget      2020-21 Proposed Budget

Tax Receipts   $7,332,294      $7,529,795

Interest    $65,000   $45,000

Total Reimbursement     $223,067 $204,567

Total Revenue $8,739,828.60 $9,410,362


Expenses 2019-20 Budget      2020-21 Proposed Budget

Wages and Benefits        $6,253,910.84 $6,427,671.81

Maintenance   $144,000 $180,000

Insurance $64,000   $70,000

Training  $87,000   $89,000

Office Expenses      $12,250   $12,250

Supplies  $64,500   $64,500

Utilities   $119,000 $124,000

Fire Prevention       $10,800   $16,000

Special Services     $526,623.82    $552,593.85

Miscellaneous $16,000   $17,197.62

Capital Outlay $1,215,594.60 $1,631,000

Debt Service   $226,148.72    $226,148.72

Total Expenses       $8,739,828.60 $9,410,362