The Destin Fire Control District gets its funding from property tax millage rates. A mill rate equals one dollar for every one thousand dollars in property value. The district has been operating on a one-mill cap for forty years. But even with a matching cap and rate of one mill district officials say it's not enough.
"Being at a cap for the last three years and the property values going down we have had to utilize our reserves to offset our budget without cutting services to the citizens. We have exhausted those available reserves" said Destin Fire Control Chief Kevin Sasser.
So the district is proposing residents follow state guidelines, and give them the ability to raise taxes higher than 1-mill, if necessary.
"Our commission has voted to ask the taxpayers to increase our millage cap from a one mill cap to the state cap for a special district of 3.75" said Sasser.
Sasser says he doubts the five district members would ever agree to the unanimous vote necessary to raise the tax a full 3.75 mils.
"I respect the firemen but i don't appreciate the fire commissioners going to a 3.75 cap" said Destin Resident Robert Wagner.
Wagner says he understands the need, but believes the fire district members are asking for too much authority.
"I think what they should've done is gone to a 1.25 millage cap. That way they're covering the budget for the upcoming year, they're taking care of the firemen because I don't want to see any firemen lose their job over this" said Wagner.
The tax cap referendum is scheduled to go to a vote on May 14th. If voters approve the higher millage cap, Destin property owners could pay as much as 10 percent more in fire control district mill taxes.