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Old 04-30-2007, 09:38 AM
 
10 posts, read 20,314 times
Reputation: 13

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Rolling back property taxes to the 2005 level sounds very seductive – but it is a recipe for disaster that can only lead to a disproportionate increase in other taxes. I did a short analysis of the effect on our condominium association if our income level were reduced to that of 2005.

The 2007 budget for our association is 27% higher than that for 2005. The sharpest increase in that two year span is due to a 100% increase in our insurance premium. Our current policy provides less insurance for considerably more money. Utility, landscape and building maintenance expenses have each jumped over 11% in that same two year period.

Our association would suffer a loss in both service and maintenance if forced to operate on our 2005 budget. Yet, the state believes the counties can operate efficiently and effectively with a 20% budget reduction – as the planned property tax rollback dictates. The proposal to collect funds via an increase in the state sales tax, returning a portion - less a ‘handling fee’ – back to Florida counties is a political shell game that would get one arrested if acted out on the street by a private citizen.

The real problem is not the property tax itself – a well proven method of funding necessary government operations. It is the rapid escalation in property values. Attack the problem where it exists: Put a modest limit on property assessments. Assess property based on its current use, not “highest and best” usage. Extend the homestead exemption to all property owners. Many other states do.

The state government is on the right path in trying to influence insurance costs. Abuse begets regulation. That is what has happened to the insurance industry. While insurance companies and CEOs rack up record profits and bonuses, policy holders suffer. Insurance companies have abused the free market system and hence invited government control.

State government may be the only viable choice for managing the current insurance crisis. However, the state legislature can not possibly be the best manager of Florida’s 67 diverse counties. Collier County is listed by the U.S. Census bureau as one of the top 10 fastest growing areas in the country. In keeping up with that growth, our county faces huge increases in its infrastructure costs. These infrastructure costs are not optional. Water treatment plants, waste management, highways, and airports: these projects entail enormous expenditures.

Other county sponsored services we have come to expect include: libraries, parks, domestic animal control, road maintenance, watershed management, and public health services just to name a few. Agencies within the county, which would be affected by the state’s proposed 20% budget decrease, are many. Imagine a reduced police presence, a trimmed back board of elections, fewer emergency services personnel, and a backlog in the court system. All are managed and financed by individual counties based upon needs particular to their county.

Our county commissioners and county employees live among us. They travel the same roadways we do. They drink the same water, use the same airport, and pay the same property tax rate as their constituents. In short, they enjoy the same amenities and deal with the same frustrations facing the voters in this county. They are qualified to recognize and prioritize the county’s most pressing needs. Can the same be said of our state government representatives?

The state government has chosen the wrong path in embracing the property tax rollback tune to seduce its listening audience. The state government should stick to administering the state budget. Section 9 of the Florida Constitution clearly states that “Counties … shall … be authorized by law to levy ad valorem taxes.” The stated maximum limit is 10 mils. There does not appear to be any provision in the state constitution for changing the cap on the fundamental taxing authority of counties. Perhaps it could be changed by a properly enacted constitutional amendment. But the state is not proposing an amendment, just imposing a rollback. Let the state meet the challenge of providing employment and services to Floridians with a rollback in their income level to that of 2005.

The best government is that which is close and personal. Keep ‘big brother’ as close to the family as possible. Sit in church with him, send your children to school with his children, shop at the same stores, and stroll the same beaches. Keep the decision makers who affect your wallet and your life as close as possible. Ensure that they remain accessible and accountable. Keep county government in the county.
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Old 04-30-2007, 12:39 PM
 
93 posts, read 355,326 times
Reputation: 42
Our county commissioners and county employees live among us. They travel the same roadways we do. They drink the same water, use the same airport, and pay the same property tax rate as their constituents. In short, they enjoy the same amenities and deal with the same frustrations facing the voters in this county.




Sounds like someone on the govt payroll worried about his/her pension.
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Old 04-30-2007, 01:13 PM
 
10 posts, read 20,314 times
Reputation: 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arrgh View Post
Our county commissioners and county employees live among us. They travel the same roadways we do. They drink the same water, use the same airport, and pay the same property tax rate as their constituents. In short, they enjoy the same amenities and deal with the same frustrations facing the voters in this county.




Sounds like someone on the govt payroll worried about his/her pension.
Nope. Never been a government employee nor have any family member employed by the government (except for a son-in-law who is career military). Undergraduate degree is economics. President of our condo association. Totally 'get it' that to provide services to the population, you must collect revenue. It's simple. Less revenue = less services. Each county should choose to reduce or eliminate services. It is not a decision that should come from the state. 67 counties have very diverse needs that don't fit into a state mandated formula. Yes, let's reduce property taxes. What made property taxes rise? Did they rise due to government spending? No, they escalated due to the increase in property values. What increased property values? The Market! The tax accessor is required by State Law to appraise based on true (what some call market) value. Reduce the appraised values and cap the future increases to the CPI.
By the way, have you heard of 'unfunded mandates'? The state portion of local school support was 60% and the county portion was 40% not too many years ago. Slowly, the state has backed out of their portion and they now pay 40% with the county paying 60% of the school budget. This year, the state wants to jump the county portion another 7%. If you do some research into your county tax figures, you will find that the school budget is always the largest recepient of property taxes. In our county, the county government share is 28.5% and the school board receives 44%. The only portion of the 'pie' that the state wants to reduce is that percentage that goes to county government. Are you arguing that the state should step up to the plate and reduce their expenditures by 20% over the next two years as well? Reduce appraised property values which equals a lasting reduction in property taxes. Suggest that the state go back to funding 60% of the public school funds. That will equate to an additional property tax reduction for every county tax payer.
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Old 04-30-2007, 01:56 PM
 
Location: Wayne County, PA
70 posts, read 297,569 times
Reputation: 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by downsville View Post
What made property taxes rise? Did they rise due to government spending? No, they escalated due to the increase in property values. What increased property values? The Market!


Maybe I missed something.

If government spending has not increased, but tax revenue has increased due to increased property values, then there should be a surplus, no?

So why all the predictions of financial ruin?

The only answer is that government spending has increased along with increased tax revenue. So because the fat cat government is bloated on tax payer funds, we should continue to feed the beast?

Any time someone calls for any type of change, there are always the doomsayers who predict the end of civilization as we know it.
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