Jacksonville City Council Stabilizes Rural Fire Protection Rates

By Benjamin Cox on October 27, 2020 at 1:02pm

The Jacksonville Fire Department has updated their formula for calculating rates for rural fire protection customers. The new flat rates were passed unanimously by the Jacksonville City Council last night. Jacksonville Fire Chief Doug Sills says that the current ordinance inconsistencies on the way the rate was calculated. He says that he and City Attorney Dan Beard created a simple calculation based on a home’s assessed value: “The formula that the city usually figures for fire protection outside the city limits – we respond to outside the city limits if you have a subscription with the City of Jacksonville for fire protection – in going back through the ordinances, we couldn’t find an ordinance or instruction in the City Clerk’s office to figure out how that formula was attained. It seemed to be an ever-increasing number every year, so fire protection outside the city limits wasn’t figured on a flat rate. What we’ve done here tonight is that formula has changed to where it will be a flat rate. The only increase in the subscription will come with an increase in the EAV or the assessed valuation of the home we are protecting.”

Sills says that there is a current movement building to create a rural fire protection district with the Jacksonville Fire Department: “We have heard talk of somebody trying to form up a fire protection district outside the city limits of Jacksonville. There’s a lot of benefit to that. Of course, there is a tax that comes with that, but part of the benefit to that from doing the math is it will be a cost savings to the subscriber that already subscribes with the City of Jacksonville for fire protection.”

Sills says he has heard that there may be petitions that will begin to circulate within the next few weeks out in the county and within the city for the protection district. He says nothing is definitive yet, but the petitions would be to create a referendum to be voted on during the April consolidated election.