Two Important Meetings This Week

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While many people are on vacation this month, and most government boards do not meet throughout July, there are two very important meetings on Fort Myers Beach this week. Both will impact the amount of taxes you pay as a Fort Myers Beach resident. The Fire Control District meets Wednesday at 10AM and the Library Board meets at 10AM on Thursday.

Both the Fire District and the Library are their own taxing districts. In addition to the taxes Fort Myers Beach residents pay to the Town of Fort Myers Beach, they also pay separately to the Fire District and the Library. The proposed 2023-2024 tax rate is on the agenda for both meetings next week with public hearings most likely to be held in September.

The library has a budget of about $1.25 million with payroll the biggest expense at $612,000. The library suffered heavy damage from Hurricane Ian. The 2022-2023 millage rate was .2851 per $1,000 of assessed property value. The year before the rate was .2799.

The Fire District millage rate in 2022-2023 was 2.9851 per $1,000 of assessed property valuation, generating about $15 million in revenue. The Fire District also generates revenue from impact fees and other services in addition to the ad valorem taxes (the millage rate). The district also has millions of dollars in fund balances and reserves.
All in the fire district budget totals about $29 million. The district employs about 60 people.

40 COMMENTS

  1. This monstrosity was built as a monument to his mother on years of inflated mil rates on our taxes. It’s use is minimal and the number of users never audited. Asking FMB owners to fund a rebuild is crazy. Allowing these people to add whatever they want to our mil rate without any oversight is ridiculous. Especially post IAN.
    Once again a few zealots are imposing their will on the rest of us (are you listening, Turtle People?). When is this going to stop?

  2. In the USA, library visits have declined quite a bit. On Ft. Myers Beach I imagine that pre-Ian usage of the library pretty much reflected the national average. Post-Ian demand for a local public library, I suspect, will be minimal. Lakes Library is only 15 minutes away and is very nice.
    In my opinion, FMB should no longer fund a library. It made little since before Ian and we should take advantage post-Ian to do downsizing that should have been done regardless of the storm.

  3. My sympathies to the residents and visitors of Fort Myers Beach who never used the library. You missed out on one of the town’s hidden jewels. Signing up for my library card was the second thing I did after I closed on my home on Fort Myers Beach 18 years ago. That’s how much I value the library. (The first thing I did was buy groceries.)

    Since then I volunteered once a week at the library. It was one of my joys of the week! It’s also one of the joys of Fort Myers Beach that Ian has taken away from me.

    In addition to books, the library provided a multitude of services to townsfolk and visitors alike. I was always amazed at the multitude of books that were returned at the end of each month by our visitors. It was an informal evaluation of just how much our library was used and valued. And remember – many library users do not linger in the library. They get what they need – books, magazines, dvds, computer use, etc., and then leave. It’s difficult to tell how many people use our library by how many are in the building at one time. And visitors to the library also were the visitors who brought needed revenue to our town.

    Are we forgetting what traffic can be like in season to get on and off the island if we had to use the Lee County Library instead of our on-island library? I, for one, would forgo the pleasure of visiting the Lee County Library if it meant an hour long trip to get off the island and then another hour to get back on – just to return a book.

    A community is valued by its schools and its libraries. With all the personal assets that we taxpayers have lost due to hurricane Ian, are we suggesting we let Ian take away one of our most important community assets as well? That would be extremely short sighted.

  4. As a 25 year property owner from out of state, I have stepped foot in Townhall exactly 0 times. Used the library, maybe two times a year when I had young children. Haven’t been in it years. Leasing out a floor to the town for the Townhall offices sounds like a win-win!

  5. “Both the Fire District and the Library are their own taxing districts.” As for the library, before taxing residents for a library, the residents should be asked if they even want a library. Even if the answer was yes in the past, the answer may be different now.

  6. First floor was parking snd the elevator entrance. Volunteered greeter I thought.
    Second floor books, kids area, computers-internet use. Large print books.
    Third floor meeting room-coffee shop never opened when I was there.
    We do use the library but payroll of 600,000. I remember seeing maybe 4 people working at any time I was there. It doesn’t mean that this aren’t more staff but the off season should be staffed less.
    Possibly make this town hall but we still need a small library of place to access computers which I know many use.

  7. Apparently the library was built to current hurricane building codes. I question why there was extensive damage. Who assessed the damage and the reason why it was extensive.
    Our tax dollars pay for it, therefore we have a right to this information.

  8. We purchased our place 2021. We did use the library for printing items, movies and books (we prefer paper reading over electronic reading on the beach). But with that said we could not believe the size of the library. Why can’t they have one floor and all floors above would be for the town offices. A door and the elevator could prevent people from going up when the town offices are closed (weekends/after hours) the town could pay rent which would probably be cheaper than a new building and with rent collected the library should only need minimal taxes (if any). Wouldn’t this be a way to work together as it would be larger than the town had before. (And we totally agree that is way to much $ for library salaries)

  9. I agree!
    The Library building should be repurposed for other needs, the Town Hall and other town services. I bought on the island over a decade ago & always thought why such a small town spent $8Million on a library. I know the history of FMB library started back in 1954 but things certainly have change in 70 years. Even more so now with digital knowledge is in our own hands. Watching the library through the years, I never saw it busy. So to throw more taxes on us when we are all just trying to survive?!
    Save us all money and give them a small area or place near by to service the librarian needs.

  10. I love the idea to repurpose the library building for the new Town Hall. We’ve had properties on the island for 10 years and have never been in the library. I’m agree that most tourist aren’t coming to the island and going to the library.

  11. Totally agree with most comments posted- we didn’t – and don’t need the massive Library on an Island our size.
    $600,000+ in payroll ??
    Why is it that the little guy –
    —- when things go wrong …
    —- when jobs are lost …
    —- major catastrophies happen …
    We are all on our own –
    We have to figure it out –
    We need to live within “”budget”” –
    and cut, cut, cut —
    Well, it’s time to “CUT” – just like everyone else is, in these circumstances —
    Stop raising taxes – get YOUR house in order!

    • Try actually looking at the budget.

      That $600k isn’t just paychecks: it includes payroll taxes, group medical insurance, FL Retirement System, etc.

      Kathy Bryan Durrett Have you never looked at the budget??

      Payroll expenses include group medical insurance, payroll taxes, FL Retirement System, and more. That number isn’t just salaries.

      http://www.fmb.lib.fl.us/documents/2022-23budget.pdf

      • This is so disingenuous to the tax payers. Pulling out the old “but it’s not all salary” card. The bill to taxpayers for payroll is 600k approximately. Thanks for explaining like we are all five year olds. We actually know how employment benefits work and it is included in payroll figures. No explaining away changes that fact. I wish the library the best of luck but facts are facts.

          • No I believe you tried to talk down to the residents and try to explain away costs at a sensitive time. Sorry if you were offended okaaaaay? But your snide comments offend me and don’t do much to help the public perception of the library.

        • She doesn’t live here OR EVEN owns on FMB. She lives in Ohio, but always wants people to think she is the town “guru”.

  12. The consensus of the comments is that we don’t need any library. I agree. That last thing people on this island need is more taxes.

  13. Never could figure out why we expanded the old library. It was always empty and often to appear as though the shelves were full the books were turned FACE OUT to fill shelfs. Additionally, much of the construction drive funding came from Library fund itself, having overcharged folks in prior years and stashing the excess. Following Ian, a library is the least of our worries not to mention that Tourists do not spent thousands of vacation dollars to come to our library. Bottom line, as a few residents have suggested, given the extent and cost of rebuilding our Island, consider downsizing and repurpose the building to new Town Hall.

  14. Timing is important! This week: Please write your ELECTED fire board of commissioners and say no to higher taxes and NO to special event fees for farmers markets which went to $9950/per location ($450 plan review, $900 inspection fee plus $246/day min. inspection fee.) Used to be $35/flat fee per location. Per F.S.633.202.17 “Tents under 900sf are not subject to inspection.”
    jbennett@fmbfirefl.gov; lwood@fmbfirefl.gov; jknickle@fmbfirefl.gov; rfleming@fmbfirefl.gov; jliszak@fmbfirefl.gov

  15. I have a few questions first of all did either the library or the fire department have insurance to help fix their buildings in case of a hurricane? most of us who own homes on Fort Myers Beach have insurance.. And if not our taxpaying fema money gave them money to repair their homes fema didn’t give me anything.. I find the fact that they are Proposing to raising our taxes to pay for their repairs more than irresponsible use of money.. the salaries for people that work at the library are unbelievable.. I want to know what type of education they have to demand that amount of money it is absurd.. how about downsizing like we’ve all had to do on the beach here to maintain our residency… I do love our library I do remember when it went up .. but I was always amazed at how huge it was and what a waste of space it was…and now the expense is so absure..Don’t you think we’ve been hurt enough trying to rebuild and fighting all the permits we’re trying to get through the town of Fort Myers Beach and fighting the insurance companies and now these entities want to raise our taxes? what are they trying to do drive us out… That’s really a stupid question because that’s exactly what’s happening.. I’ve been a resident taxpaying resident for 47 years Ian was a terrible disaster for all of us but the rebuild and the restructure is just as much as a disaster especially hearing about this proposed tax hike..we need to take positive action to stop this.
    I would like to see the positions education and salary of the employees at the library.. Maybe when the powers that be get back from vacation they will do something about it

    • LOL “The powers that be … get back from vacation.”

      The library and the FD are their own taxing districts; they each decide their own millage rates.

  16. Who visits libraries? Most libraries have increased their digital collection to to constitute 55% of total (physical books, ect). I perused the Fort Myers digital offerings and it was a joke!! I quickly got my Lakes Library Card that has a large digital collection. For 1.25M we are getting nothing but useless antiquities of books and computers. Just for transparency purposes , what is the number of people getting $612,000. I never saw more than 4 staff at one time that are assisted by volunteers!! What exactly are the salaries? Please apply $$$ to projects that add value to community rebuilding vs the “nice to have” perks of recreation center, pool, library! Maybe the unemployed but paid library staff can be shifted to building permit processing.

    • Yes, the city of FM has an amazing library system, including a huge distal collection. FMB could never compete with it.

  17. Since 2009, in the USA, library visits have declined 21%. On Ft. Myers Beach I imagine that pre-Ian usage of the library pretty much reflected the national average. Post-Ian demand for a local public library, I suspect, will be minimal. Lakes Library is only 15 minutes away and is very nice.
    In my opinion, FMB should no longer fund a library. It made little since before Ian and we should take advantage post-Ian to do downsizing that should have been done regardless of the storm.

  18. The library is massive for such a small island and seems to always be empty. Use the library building for a new city hall and move the library to a small facility since libraries are a thing of the past. All of these “raise tax talks” are making it difficult for the average FMB resident to afford to live here.

  19. There’s like 400 residents on this island, I think it’s time you should consider down sizing. Believe it or not, some of us are still trying to rebuild and still waiting for thing to go forward in our own lives. So now we pay for your rebuild? Did you not have insurance like the churches?

    • Why do we even need this HUGE library? It was empty before IAN and will be emptier afterwards. This library should be downsized and the building should be repurposed into something else. The school should also be downsized and rebuilt in a much smaller footprint. Only 88 kids attended that school prior to IAN and there will be much less attending afterwards. This school was loosing over a million a year. I really which that FMB deincorporates and goes back to LEE County!!!

  20. So for grins Ed how does that dollar amount work out if my property strap value with Lee County Property Appraiser is $500k. What is my piece of the pie? We do have a library that is bigger than most small town elementary schools.

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