I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.
Friday, December 1, 2017
I'm NOT Proposing a Tax Rate Increase on Escambia County Property Owners
....Because I have said over and over for eleven years running now that I will not vote to raise year over year property tax rates on Escambia County property owners. I never have, and I never will. I stand by that. I also will not vote to impose new taxes that will only affect local residents.
So with this said--how in the world can we generate new revenue to offset tourism related public safety expenses in our beach and tourist areas so general fund revenues can be saved to increase Deputy Sheriff pay?
We can do what Okaloosa, Walton, and Bay Counties are already doing. Add a fifth cent to the Bed Tax. I was astonished and dismayed to hear one of my peers flat-out reject this idea last night at the meeting, instead recommending a significant increase to the county-wide sheriff's MSTU (which would increase property tax rates on already over taxed Escambia County Property Owners). This I would not support. I would much rather put this burden on out-of-town visitors who come here.
Adding a fifth cent to the fees that out-of-town residents pay when they stay in Hotels, Motels, Condominiums, and R.V. Parks in Escambia County (Bed Tax) is a legitimate way to raise revenue---without impacting local taxpayers. Right now the current levy of 4 cents generates right at $2.5 Million yearly per cent, for a total of $10 Million per year. Adding the fifth cent would increase total collection to $12.5 Million per year--of which only $1.25 Million could be utilized to offset public safety expenditures if enabling legislation is passed in Tallahassee. So the TDT fund would increase by over a million dollars yearly--even as a small portion of it was utilized, legitimately, to offset costs of the ECSO and County Public Safety for Tourism-related expenditures at our beaches.
So, as a part of a larger initiative to help address pay scale issues and to move us from an adversarial stance with ECSO to a more cooperative posture--I have put forth the Blue Penny Plan. It is simple-here's how it works: No increases to Escambia County Property Owners, Agree on a 5-7 year MOU/MOA between BCC and ECSO, Agree on a yearly base amount of funding (with built in yearly increases that match BCC revenue increases on a percentage of budget basis), agree to a BCC match of up to $350,000.00 for any LET funds the sheriff will utilize to offset his SRO costs each year (up to $350,000.00--which frees up $700,000.00 potentially in ECSO general fund dollars) and rebate 50% of ECSO unexpended funds returned to BCC at end of each FY (required by statute) during the term of the MOU/MOA. This, combined, generates $1.35 Million per year to address pay scale issues, retention, and other financial needs of the ECSO--over an above the base level allocation and yearly adjustments yearly--- which can be used to fund additional pay raises as well.
This is why a small fraction of this fifth cent is a legitimate funding source to utilize in attempts to assist County Law Enforcement with their pay scale deficiencies.
This is how we can do it while not raising taxes on Escambia County property owners.
This is what I support.