The Villages Independent Fire Control and Rescue District - Residents Decide on November 8, 2022
Thank you to those residents who have reached out for additional information and clarification on The Villages Independent Fire Control and Rescue District! District Manager, Kenny Blocker, sat down with Fire Chief Cain to share some of the common questions he’s recently received.
As a resident of Sumter County, why would I want a Special Fire Control District?
After overwhelming support from residents, the Sumter County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) approved to maintain two distinct Fire operations and two distinct EMS transport operations in 2021. In addition to maintaining a separate fire department, residents of The Villages demanded more responsive emergency rescue, medical, and transport services. The inception of The Villages Independent Fire Control and Rescue District (District) will provide the self-governance and autonomy that better focuses on our planned community and independent financial sustainability of the services to The Villages, and surrounding areas.
I live in The Villages, but not in Sumter County. What does that mean for me?
The proposed boundaries of the District encompass only the Sumter County portion of The Villages and some surrounding areas of unincorporated Sumter County. Other portions of The Villages not located in Sumter County will be addressed via various inter-governmental agreements and include portions of Marion County, Lake County, Lady Lake, Fruitland Park, and the City of Leesburg. This is the same way services are currently achieved for these areas.
When will The Villages Independent Fire Control and Rescue District take effect?
The legislation that has been passed quite simply provides the residents the ability to vote for the formal establishment of the District. Upon approval by the Governor, the decision for the establishment of the District will be on the November 8, 2022 General Election ballot for residents residing in the District to decide.
If the vote is favorable, The Villages Independent Fire Control and Rescue District would materialize effective October 1, 2023.
Why is The Villages Public Safety Department purchasing ambulances when we have not yet voted on The Villages Independent Fire Control and
Ambulance and transport services will be provided by The Villages Public Safety Department on October 1, 2022, per an Interlocal Grant Agreement with Sumter County BOCC. As this service begins a year in advance of The Villages Independent Fire Control and Rescue District potentially taking effect, it was crucial that The Villages Public Safety Department acquire all the necessary apparatus, equipment, and supplies to appropriately serve the residents.
Who is providing ambulance and transport services until October 1, 2022, when The Villages Public Safety Department takes responsibility?
Between now and October 1, 2022, Sumter County continues to be responsible for ambulance and transport services via their contracted provider, AMR.
Are the Board Members who will serve on The Villages Independent Fire Control and Rescue District really going to be residents of The Villages?
Yes! Once the District is formed, the District shall be governed by a Board consisting of five members residing within the District boundaries initially appointed to staggered terms by the Governor. After the initial term, each member will be elected by registered voters in the District. The Governor’s office utilizes a standard application process for Gubernatorial Appointments that is accessible online. Once the online application is available for this particular District, additional information will be disseminated to those individuals who may be interested in serving.
I’m confused about the funding for properties within the District boundaries…can you elaborate, and is this process fair?
Both residential and commercial parcels (properties) will be charged using the same methodology – known as the ‘Simplified Funding’ approach. While different methodologies exist, this one has been approved by the courts, and updates automatically each year as parcels change. The parcel data is obtained from the Sumter County Property Appraiser’s Office, the same data that is utilized to develop annual tax bills for Sumter County. The Simplified Method is a non-ad Valorem assessment, meaning it is not based on the value of your property.
Each parcel will be charged $124 on the non-ad valorem portion of the tax bill. In addition to the $124, an estimated .71 mills of ad valorem property taxes per parcel would be used to fund the Interlocal Agreement for VPSD in October 2023 from the Sumter BOCC.
Each parcel will be charged $124. The additional needed funding will be generated with $0.75 per $1000 of relative improvement value in (market or ‘just’ value minus land value) in a second tier.
In addition to the ‘Simplified Funding’, The Villages Independent Fire Control and Rescue District will have the legal ability to generate funding via millage which is an ad-valorem assessment, meaning that it is based on the taxable value of your home. This is capped at one (1) mill which is equivalent to $1 for every $1,000 of the assessable value of residential and commercial properties. This would mean the Board could levy 0 mills or any millage in between to a maximum of 1 mill.
Under the purview of the District, these revenue methods will provide enhanced transparency in identifying exactly how much you are paying to fund the services received.
So, will I be paying more?
The following chart provides sample comparisons of the potential maximum levy for fire and EMS services that would be provided by the District of actual properties within the proposed District boundaries (does not include amenity fee). As you can see, the annual increase varies based on the relative improvement value.
|Publix Plaza – Colony Blvd
What will I be getting with the annual increase?
The Villages Public Safety Department heard from the thousands of residents that they wanted better services and response times than they were
receiving from the current transport and service provider. This budget was created to include the revenues and expenditures to provide those
comprehensive services, consistent to the higher level of services that residents of The Villages expect in all areas of their lifestyle. Most
notably, the increased expenses account for the assumption of ambulance and transport services, as well as funding to support future fire stations,
apparatus and personnel to maintain a constant state of readiness in this ever-growing community.
If I am no longer paying taxes to Sumter County for fire service, will my Sumter County taxes be reduced?
Only the Sumter County Board of County Commissioners can respond as to their plan for taxing in Sumter County. We urge you to contact them with your questions or concerns by attending a meeting or visiting their website at https://www.sumtercountyfl.gov/.
So, what happens now?
Upon approval by the Governor, House Bill 995 will appear on the General Election Ballot on November 8th for the voters to decide on the creation of
The Villages Independent Fire Control and Rescue District.
As an interested Resident, what can I do to help?
This process allows for you as a Resident to decide on the establishment of The Villages Independent Fire Control and Rescue District on November 8th. You can further assist by ensuring that your friends and neighbors are aware of the most current information by visiting DistrictGov.org and reading the District Weekly Bulletin. We want to ensure that everyone has access to the most beneficial information to make an informed decision in November.