St Johns County Commissioners up to Mischief over 1 Cent Sales Tax Increase
By Henry C. Warner | June 11, 2015 | EddieFleming.Com
The County Board of County Commissioners action to place on the ballot this Fall your opportunity to vote a one cent sales tax increase to meet continuing need for revenue primarily for infrastructure costs. (This vote , YES or No will cost the Tax Payers approximately $280,000.) This new revenue can include those projects that have been postponed from the recent recession ( including maintenance) to new projects intended to solve infrastructure requirements related to rapid residential growth. The Board of Commissioners can raise the property taxes to meet this need, but do not want to take the responsibility for revenue needs they have created. Continued approval of residential building at an average of two hundred newly permitted per month has impact and stresses widespread across St. John County. Have your traffic stresses increased recently? In addition the BCC is threatening citizens with the loss of park and recreational services and library services that are enjoyed by many citizens. The tax burden belongs to them and past Boards for their actions to allow unbridled residential growth.
Simply the residential building does not cover the costs of growth. We are evidencing over a 1000 new students in the District schools each year. Over 1500 new students this school year. This increase student population requires at least two new school facilities and staffing and supporting infrastructure. The infrastructure costs required will exceed the property taxes received. This proposed increase will be followed by another needed in several years. Also increased administrative costs will be necessary as growth costs are not linear. Other approaches to increased tax revenues need to be seriously considered , such as, placing greater tax burden on new construction.
For example: Florida Trend magazine ( June 2015) cites ” Osecola County Commissioners voted to raise the county gas tax by 5 cents per gallon and levy a $4,500 fee on new homes, both to finance road construction and transportation improvements.” Whether it is increased impact fees or utility fees, environmental assessment and management fee, special district management fee or some other fund raising mechanism…even a added gas tax as suggested by County Administrator Mike Wanchick should be considered. The County has a variety of options.
Can current County departments continue to be effective with reduced budgets? The largest expenditures experienced by the County are in the areas of Safety and Fire -Rescue. An operational audit might provide administrative and program efficiencies not currently recognized, i. e., savings to the taxpayer. In addition the public can have another measure of assurance that their tax dollars are being applied most efficiently.
For those new home owners since 2008 the School District has reported a loss of property tax revenue due to the reduction to 1.5 mileage from 2.0 mil equating to a 180 million dollars loss to County Schools. In addition the County has been unable to secure state construction funds that were available by legislative action in the past. This has created a very stressful position for the school District that has had to lease over 100 temporary classrooms to meet the surge of new students. While there is a liaison representative between the District and the BCC no public plan of coordination is apparent. While the BCC has laid the problem of additional funding for services and infrastructure on the voter they have not presented a public plan to control or manage the growth and post pone additional taxing in the future years. It would seem only another economic recession will give tax payers relief!
It should also be noted that many home owners have homestead and other exemptions that will substantially limit their future property tax assessments.
Tell your Board of County Commissioners to place the needed new tax revenues on new residential construction and vote “No” to a sales tax increase.
Call today and let your St. Johns County Commissioner know YOU DO NOT WANT A SALES TAX INCREASE !!!
• James K. Johns, Commissioner, District 1: (904) 615-7437, email@example.com
• Jeb Smith, Vice-Chair, Commissioner, District 2: (904) 325-4182, firstname.lastname@example.org
• Jay Morris, Commissioner, District 4: (904) 814-9403, email@example.com
• Rachael L. Bennett, Chair, Commissioner, District 5: (904) 315-7260, firstname.lastname@example.org
• Bill McClure, Commissioner, District 3: (904) 501-0052, email@example.com
Henry C. Warner
Mr, Warner is a Retired, program analyst, U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare; U.S. Education Department; independent consultant to a tech school in Georgia.