This letter is to give an overview of the City of Westport’s actions and information regarding the request on the Aug. 1 ballot, Proposition 1, formation of a Regional Fire Authority District within the local fire districts and City of Westport.
In 2015, an agency was hired by the South Beach Ambulance District to provide a study of the options available to the South Beach area that addresses the challenges and opportunities that were facing the fire jurisdictions, including the City of Westport, in maintaining full fire coverage for its citizens. As a result, the elected officials of the participating agencies agreed to form an RFA Planning Committee and developed the charter (plan) document necessary to establish an RFA.
After several months, the jurisdictions were asked to adopt the “SB Regional Fire Authority Plan” which also includes the ballot title to submit to its voters the question whether to form the “SB RFA” and set its taxing authority amounts. The City of Westport adopted this plan and ballot measure, Proposition No. 1, to be included on the Aug. 1 ballot.
What will this do to the City of Westport citizens/voters?
The fire department’s responsibility/duties will be eliminated in the city’s budget for the ensuing years as well as the South Beach Ambulance (EMS) levies. The RFA Board, consisting of a representative from each entity, will operate the fire and ambulance service as prescribed by state laws. The City of Westport has agreed to reduce its general property tax amount to exclude the amount of the Westport Fire budget’s net amount, approximately $277,000.
In doing so, the RFA rate of $2.86 should be an even trade with the elimination of the EMS regular and excess levies within the city’s budget. Because the property levies are not finalized until December, it is difficult to establish an exact amount as far as the cty’s assessed value and the rate associated therewith. We’ve reviewed the 2017 amounts and are as confident as we can reasonably be that the trade-off from Westport’s property tax/EMS levies and the SB RFA tax levy will not be an increase to the City of Westport’s property tax.
The South Beach RFA will operate similar to the South Beach Ambulance except it will include fire service duties and the cost share of this regional district will be borne by all tax payers within the 5 agencies.
I encourage all voters to get out and vote.
Rob Bearden, Mayor
City of Westport