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Thanks A Lot, Howard — Why Now?
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Thanks A Lot, Howard

The Pensacola Beach Blog has been tracking the local reaction to the budget problems caused by the mortgage meltdown, cratering house prices, and Amendment 1.

As the Republicans have a lock on political offices in Santa Rosa county, you knew that whatever they did, it wouldn’t be called a tax increase, and they came through with the old Reagan dodge of “user fees”.

Both the city of Milton and the city of Gulf Breeze are in the process of enacting emergency services “fees”, which essentially mean that if you call 911, expect a bill.

If you are planning to travel in this area, you might want to avoid those two cities, although I expect other areas will get in the act shortly. While the Milton ordinance isn’t as blatant as the Gulf Breeze version, years of living here tells me that local voters won’t be stuck with the costs, they’ll push them on to tourists or people from outside their voting districts.


1 Steve Bates { 06.11.08 at 8:48 am }

The fax are the fax are the fax:
A tax is a tax is a tax.
Whatever it’s called,
You’re surely appalled:
Your pockets are picked to the max.

– SB the YDD

One of many problems with this approach is that it will discourage otherwise uninvolved persons from calling 911 when they spot an emergency. I have called 911 one time: it was when a newspaper vendor suffering something like epilepsy fell in the middle of a busy street in the middle of the night. Would I have phoned if I had known I’d be responsible for a multi-$100 bill? Well, I probably would have; would the average citizen have? Such a service needs to be available to everyone, at any time, at need.

2 LadyMin { 06.11.08 at 9:30 am }

Fees for essential services? Other than the obvious thinking that it’s just not right, I get the feeling that somehow this violates some law.

As a tax consultant, I can verify that Florida is not a low tax state, despite the fact there is no income tax. A few years ago I argued with a Florida Assesser about a tax they applied to those concrete parking lot bumpers; he said they were personal property and should be taxed accordingly. I consider them real estate; so did the client; so does every other state. An appeal would cost the client more than the tax. So they got their money.

3 Bryan { 06.11.08 at 3:53 pm }

Steve, if they are going to start charging for each separate incident, they are not going to get the community response they need, as you point out, and they are going to get push back from the libertarian minded, that these are the only services that are worth paying for from the government, so property taxes need to be eliminated.

Ah, yes, the elected assessors of Florida – now there’s a political plum position. Our current assessor would appear to be honest, but there have been times…

Then there were the guys who did it strictly by lot size, which had a guy with a one bedroom trailer on 5 acres in North County paying more that a 4-bedroom house and pool on a water front lot.

As I said when Amendment 1 was came up, the property tax system is broken, but Amendment 1 didn’t do anything about the real problems – consistency and predictability.