Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Revenue, spending increased; tax rate stayed the same

Neil Brickfield and Janet Long are locked in a tight race for the Pinellas County Commission District 1 seat. Until now, the focus has been on Long criticizing Brickfield's vote to take fluoride out of county drinking water.

Now, a campaign flier from Brickfield tries to tap into the antitax sentiment among voters by implying that Long is a tax-and-spend Democrat.

"As a city council member, Janet Long increased spending by over 48 percent and property taxes by 60 percent!" the flier claims.

Brickfield, a Republican incumbent, has the numbers about right on increases in property tax revenue and spending in Seminole during the four years Long served on the council. Brickfield's flier implies that Long acted alone. In reality, she was one vote on a seven-member council. The claim also fails to provide any context for increases in the city budget.

When Long was elected to the Seminole council in March 2002, the budget was about $11.42 million. By the time she left in March 2006, it had grown by about 58 percent to $18.05 million.

During the same time period, property tax revenues in Seminole climbed about 55 percent from about $2.02 million to about $3.13 million, according to city records.

But the city's tax rate remained the same, about $2.94 per $1,000 of assessed, taxable property value.

Seminole managed that trick by a combination of increasing property values and large annexations of upscale neighborhoods in the area around Walsingham Lake, said Harry Kyne, the city's budget director. More property meant more income, he said. But more people meant the city had to spend more to take care of those new citizens.

Two annexations took place while Long was in office. Both were in January 2003. When they were complete, Seminole had grown by 431 acres, 475 homes, 109 condos, 612 chunks of land and more than 1,300 residents, said Mark Ely, the city's development director.

Ely said the city has no records of the total taxable value of the annexed properties but they were of "higher than average taxable value. Larger lots. Bigger homes."

Our ruling

By the city of Seminole's calculations, the budget actually increased more than the 48 percent that Brickfield cites. And tax revenue climbed 55 percent, not quite the 60 percent on Brickfield's flier, but not too far off. So overall, the numbers are largely on target.

But the flier lacks context in that the City Council never raised the tax rate while Long was in office. The budget and revenue increases were due to the city growing and property values increasing.

We rule this Half True.

Read more rulings at

The statement

"As a city council member, Janet Long increased spending by over 48 percent and property taxes by 60 percent!"

Neil Brickfield, in a campaign flier

The ruling

PolitiFact ruling: Half True
Tax revenues increased during Long's tenure, but it was due to annexations and increases to property values. Spending also increased because of the annexations. We rate this Half True.

Revenue, spending increased; tax rate stayed the same 10/29/12 [Last modified: Monday, October 29, 2012 11:55pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. No toll lanes north of downtown Tampa in three of four interstate proposals


    TAMPA — Express lanes may not be coming to downtown Tampa after all. Or at least not to the stretch of Interstate 275 that goes north through Bearss Avenue.

    Seminole Heights resident Kimberly Overman discusses the new interstate options with V.M. Ybor resident Chris Vela (left), Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp and HNTB consultant Chloe Coney during a Tampa Bay Express meeting Monday night at the Barrymore Hotel. [CAITLIN JOHNSTON  |  Times]
  2. No lack of issues facing St. Petersburg's six council candidates


    ST. PETERSBURG — The six candidates for City Council gathered Monday evening in the very chamber to which they aspire to serve.

    St. Petersburg City Council candidates (from left)  Brandi Gabbard and Barclay Harless in District 2; Jerick Johnston and incumbent council member Darden Rice in District 4; and Justin Bean and Gina Driscoll of District 6. All six candidates appeared at Monday night's forum at City Hall sponsored by the League of Women Voters. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]

  3. Iraq's Kurds vote on independence, raising regional fears


    IRBIL, Iraq — Iraqi Kurds voted Monday in a landmark referendum on supporting independence, a move billed by the Kurdish leadership as an exercise in self-determination but viewed as a hostile act by Iraq's central government. Neighboring Turkey even threatened a military response.

    People celebrate Monday after voting closed in a referendum on independence in Irbil, Iraq.
  4. North Korean diplomat says Trump has 'declared war'


    UNITED NATIONS — North Korea's top diplomat said Monday that President Donald Trump's weekend tweet was a "declaration of war" and North Korea has the right to retaliate by shooting down U.S. bombers, even in international airspace.

    North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, center, speaks outside the U.N. Plaza Hotel in New York on Monday.
  5. Pinellas grants St. Pete's request to add millions to pier budget

    Local Government

    Times Staff Writer

    The Pinellas County Commission has granted St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman's request to dedicate millions more toward the city's new pier.

    The St. Petersburg City Council on Thursday  voted 7-1 to appropriate $17.6 million for the over-water portion of the Pier District. This is a rendering of what the new Pier District could look like. [Courtesy of St. Petersburg]