And the City Council finance committee has said “No” to Mayor Peyton’s 1.02 mil property tax increase. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen, but it’s a good sense of the mood of the council.
Their mood seems to be that they don’t want to increase taxes. At least not yet.
The vote sets the maximum tax rate, which the council decided should be the same as it is this year. It can still change, but coming out of committee with a recommendation to not raise the millage is a strong message.
The TU reports that a parade of business people has come out in favor of the increase. “We support a millage increase at the vote on July 28, which will allow the council the opportunity to fully debate the mayor’s priorities for the budget,” they said in a letter to the council. “This is responsible leadership.”
But having listened to Richard Clark, the council president, a couple of times last week, he’s convinced that there is %50 million in savings to be found in the budget. A review of every department begins next month, with most charged with finding a 5 percent across the board cut. Police and fire are exempt so far, at least as far as the Mayor is concerned, but others may insist that those budgets be looked at as well.
At the end of the day, the council can say that it couldn’t find the cuts, and raise the millage anyway. Taxpayers will have to be notified that the ‘rollback’ rate, which would actually be an increase, to the tune of some $200,000. But the council seems willing to take that risk.
Here at the beach, we’ve got a bit of a double whammy on the horizon. If there’s a City of Jacksonville tax increase, and that’s certainly not a sure thing, it will be piled on a possible increase here as well. Property values here in Neptune Beach have fallen 4 to 5 percent, and that is a big bite in the budget for our little town. We might be in for a double gouge on the tax front.
I guess that, since I can’t just make more money, or increase taxes on my own, I’ll have to find some way to 1) make more money or 2) cut spending. Neither one is easy, but it’s the choice lot’s of us are being required to make.
Either way, it’s going to be a lean budget year all the way around.