Cape Coral residents take fire assessment fight to Supreme Court

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla.-  Cape Coral residents have taken their fight against the city’s fire assessment fee all the way to the state’s Supreme Court.

Now it’s up to the justices to decide if the controversial fee will disappear.

The decision could have a far reaching impact and affect how other cities implement their own fees. If the justices rule in their favor, the city will have to pay that money back.

Scott Morris represented homeowners challenging the fee.  He says the way the fee is being calculated is hurting those who own smaller parcels of land.

“Ultimately their goal is, in my opinion, is to cover 100 percent of the firefighters budget, which is $40 million to free up all that money in the general revenue fund,” said Morris.

The city’s counsel, Chris Roe, says the money being freed up by the fee can help sustain other city needs.

“One of the advantages of the special assessment is that you can impose the assessment on properties that might not otherwise pay a property tax by virtue of homestead exemption or low property value, those are the same types of properties that are making most use of the services, but they’re not contributing to the system because they’re not paying property taxes,” said Roe.

A decision probably won’t be handed down quickly. The city’s council said they’re looking at March.

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