Lakeland, Fl (WFLA) – After hearing hours of criticism from dozens of Lakeland citizens Monday, the city commission didn’t get the majority vote needed to pass a fire assessment fee. The fee has been the center of debate for months. Monday enough residents showed up to fill the chambers and three conference rooms. More than 50 people signed up for the public comment portion of the meeting. However, the meeting, slated to begin at 10 am, didn’t start until 11, due to other business the commission addressed first. Then, after a few hours, many people left before their name was called to speak.
The issues residents raised ranged from unnecessary fees, taxing the poor, and not listening to their constituents to aggravations over errors in the assessment fee estimates mailed to them. The city acknowledged many mail-outs had mistakes, particularly in the quoted number of properties people owned. In the end, Mayor Howard Wiggs, Commissioner Don Selvage and Commissioner Justin Troller voted against the proposed fee that would raise more than $8 million. Three voted in favor of the fee and Commissioner Jim Malless was absent. Mayor Wiggs, who had previously supported the fee, said he wasn’t convinced the money was needed right now. He suggested bringing it up again in a year, an idea Selvage suggested, too.