At its meeting on Tuesday, August 15, the Jupiter Town Council directed Town staff to create the Jupiter Fire Rescue Department (JFRD) to deliver excellent levels of service at a lower, more sustainable cost to residents and businesses.
Creating the new JFRD will allow the Jupiter Town Council to have local control over costs, operations, and levels of service. It will also allow the Council to make fiscally-responsible decisions on behalf of Jupiter’s residents and businesses, and will significantly decrease the cost of fire rescue and emergency services compared to what is charged by PBCFR, currently and into the future.
In late 2022, the Town of Jupiter contracted with the Center for Public Safety Management (CPSM), affiliated with the International City & County Managers Association (ICMA), to conduct a Fire & EMS Sustainability & Feasibility Study that explored different options for service delivery for fire and EMS services for Jupiter. The study outlined start-up costs, ongoing operational costs, and a 36-month implementation timeline for the JFRD.
In July 2023, the Town of Jupiter and Palm Beach County executed a 10-year interlocal agreement to provide fire rescue and EMS services to Jupiter. PBCFR’s costs to provide service to Jupiter have risen from $20 million in 2020 to a proposed budget of $28 million for Fiscal Year 2024. By the end of the 10-year interlocal agreement, which runs through 2033, the projected PBCFR budget will be $44 million. In 2024, a homesteaded property valued at $550,000 will pay about $951 to PBCFR for fire rescue services. By 2033, that same homeowner will pay about $1,359. However, because the agreement with PBCFR contains cost categories without maximums, that number could be much higher. In the first year of operation of the JFRD (2026), a homesteaded Jupiter property valued at $550,000 would pay about $533 for fire rescue services. Over the 10-year timeframe of the interlocal agreement, Jupiter taxpayers will save approximately $68 million by establishing the JFRD, when compared to maintaining the agreement with PBCFR.
The Town of Jupiter has always done an exceptional job at managing its financial position, which will allow the Town to start the JFRD through a combination of cash, financial debt, and ad valorem taxes. Even when start-up costs and financing costs are incorporated, Jupiter residents and businesses will pay far less in taxes once the JFRD is operational than they currently pay to PBCFR for the same service.
Likewise, the Town of Jupiter has established a culture of excellence in regards to public safety. The Jupiter Police Department sets this benchmark every day, and JFRD will start its service from a position of excellence on day one.
The Town estimates that it will take approximately three years to build the JFRD, with service beginning in 2026. The Town will receive fire rescue and EMS services from PBCFR until that time under the current interlocal agreement.
Next steps in the process to create the JFRD include exercising the termination clause in the interlocal between the Town and PBCFR; appropriating funds for equipment, vehicles, and other apparatus; reviewing funding strategies and mechanisms; and reviewing key milestones. The next regular Town Council meeting is scheduled for September 5, 2023 at 7 pm. More information on the funding, resident costs, and timeline for the creation of the JFRD is provided in the Fire and Rescue Frequently Asked Questions. For more information, and to view the Town of Jupiter Town Council meeting agendas, backup materials, and meeting videos, visit www.jupiter.fl.us/agendas.