Counties blast Crist's property tax plans
The Florida Association of Counties issued a strongly worded reaction to Gov. Charlie Crist's property tax proposals, first reported by the Times/Herald, calling it a "tax patch" that "would be detrimental to already struggling local economies."
President Rodney J. Long's full statement in the jump.
"The proposal outlined over the weekend as the Governor's property tax patch would be detrimental to already struggling local economies. It is our counties, not big government, which should be choosing the look and feel of our communities from critical services to quality of life. Over the last three years local governments have reduced revenues on average by 9.3 percent. These reductions have resulted in cuts in services, construction, and employees in almost every county.
With Amendment 1 and more dramatically the crash of Florida's economy, everyone is cutting costs and making dramatic reductions. Counties are no exception. While some reductions have increased efficiencies, an artificial, one-size-fit all gimmick will prohibit counties from being able to provide critical services that are in higher demand due to Florida's struggling economy.
The counties in your community provide law enforcement, fire protection, ambulances and airports. Counties support and provide social services and healthcare - resources in demand now more than ever. Yet again the Governor proposes to cut more services and halt more construction, without addressing the true inequities of Florida's property tax system.
While a revenue cap on local governments may sound good, it is unrealistic and it defies common sense. If there is a cap, how will local governments address rising expenses such as gas, security, technology, and healthcare. If revenues are to be capped, so must expenses, which is impossible in a market driven democratic society. To balance any budget, expenses and revenue most flow hand in hand. But to tie one hand behind the back of local governments would cripple our communities, forever hampering any substantive economic recovery.
To further require reductions in non-homestead caps and new homebuyer programs would miss the mark of true property tax reform. We must look at our entire property tax system and develop a system that is fair and equitable for all Floridians not a good sound bite that would prolong our recession and devastate critical services."