Casselberry residents angry over plans to extend tax on streetlights

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CASSELBERRY, Fla. —

People who live in Casselberry are furious over plans to extend a special tax to keep streetlights on.

The city said it needs the money. But taxpayers said it's a service for which they shouldn't have to pay extra money.

Henry Talton considers the streetlights in his neighborhood a necessity for public safety.

"We have students going up and down these streets and kids go to school over, so it's very important that we have properly lighted streets out here," he said.

But he and other residents have to pay a fee just to have those streetlights. Now the city wants to extend that fee another year.

"I feel upset that I would have to pay something extra for that," said Talton.

In most cities, streetlights are an essential and covered by property taxes. But Casselberry leaders told WFTV their property and gas tax revenues plummeted three years ago and still haven't recovered.

Homeowners now pay $37 a year for streetlights.

WFTV found out if people weren't paying this fee the city would have to raise the millage rate by .3 mills to compensate for the lost revenue.

But WFTV was also told revenues that have been going to pay off construction loans will be freed up next year, when those are paid off. And the city will consider dropping the streetlight fee.

But citizens who called WFTV about the issue said they don't buy it. They said they plan to pack the next commission meeting.

"The taxes are already high enough and to have to pay an extra fee. This is really outrageous," said Talton.

The city says the fee has generated $300,000 a year for the street light program. The public hearing on the issue is set for next Monday at 7 p.m. at City Hall.