Higher property taxes could be paid by homeowners if the commission approves next year’s proposed budget that includes tripling the fire/rescue contract with Tequesta.
JIC’s current 20-year contract with Tequesta is about $4 million. The new 20-year contract would pay Tequesta about $11 million to send their fire-rescue vehicles over the 707 bridge to the 400-resident community. The JIC commission plans to vote on the contract Aug. 12.
“Nobody is complaining. We understand this is the best rate we can get,” said Dan Comerford, mayor of the waterfront community where the 240 single-family homes vary in cost from about $700,000 to $7 million.
JIC officials checked with joining the county’s fire/rescue system, which serves Jupiter. That would have been even more expensive, Comerford said.
The town’s proposed budget for next year is $1.5 million. That’s $200,000 more than this year.
If the commission approves next year’s budget, which includes the fire/rescue increase, the owner of a homesteaded home valued at $1 million next year would pay $5,750 in property taxes to JIC. That is about $1,050 more than this year. That does not include school, county and other taxes. The council can lower the proposed tax rate but not raise it before the final budget is approved.
There are usually about 30 fire/rescue calls annually to JIC from Tequesta. Nine out of 10 are medical calls. That comes out to about $18,000 per call during the new 20-year contract. The cost for Tequesta to send a fire/rescue vehicle to JIC is about $3,000, according to Tequesta Village Manager Mike Couzzo.
The contract boost is justified because pensions, fire/rescue medical equipment and personnel costs have increased. The village recently bought a $500,000 fire truck, said Tequesta Mayor Abby Brennan.
“This is a very fair rate,” Brennan said.
Public hearings on the JIC budget are planned Sept. 10 and Sept. 24. For information, go to jupiterinletcolony.org.