We pay higher taxes because we are a city.
This one’s easy, because I also own property
unincorporated area of Collier County on
Mainsail Dr. The
first tax receipt is on my
condo on Marco Island. The
second tax receipt
is on my condo in Collier County. As
you can see, the Marco mill age rate is 13.5539.
The County millage rate is 13.8877.
“county” area takes in Isles of Capri.
If I could move my Marco Island condo across the bridge
and keep the same assessed value, my property tax would
go from $3362 to $3444. We
are protected from the higher taxes just across the bridge
because we are a city. You
can figure the “county increase” yourself.
Just divide 13.8877 by 13.5539 and multiply the result
by the total amount on your property tax bill.
Our city runs inefficiently and wastes money.
When Marco Island became a city three years ago, it had
about $2 million either in the bank or coming
in from various sources.
Since that time, the city has saved about $4
million, and has $6 million saved.
The city only saved money because we had a spending cap
Sorry, this one’s wrong, too.
The spending cap was no help whatsoever, because it
didn’t go into effect until this year (or more specifically,
the budget of 2001). The
city saved the money with no help from the cap.
The city controls most of our property tax.
city has very little control over your property tax.
Remember, your property tax is made up of two parts –
the “assessed value” of your property and the “millage
“assessed value” is controlled by the County.
The city has no control whatsoever over the “assessed
look at the property tax
stubs above (or look at your own).
Only millage rates are shown – because the city only
controls millage rates. Or
should I say, only one millage rate.
This is the rate labeled “city,” and it’s
This is the only part of your tax bill controlled by
the city. All
of the other millage rates, plus all
of the assessed value, are controlled by other entities.
The city just reduced the “city” millage rate from
1.65 to 1.5087, after much discussion.
I saved about $37.
Yes, $37 is important, – but I bring up that figure
to point out that sometimes we use a sledgehammer to kill a
I will be quoting the Florida State Constitution and
applicable statutes in some of the following questions. To
look them up yourself, go to www.leg.state.fl.us
and click on the applicable Title, Section, or Chapter.
We need a spending cap because there is no protective
cap on taxes.
The “assessed value” is capped at the lesser
of 3% or the increase in the CPI (less than 3% last year), but only
if you “homestead” your property.
(Article VII, Section 4.c.1 – Florida State
This protection is Florida law, and can be changed by
lawmakers in Tallahassee.
This protection is in the Florida Constitution,
and can only be changed by a vote of 2/3 of the voters
voting in that election. (Article
XI, Section 7 – Florida State Constitution)
We may be protected on the “assessed value” side,
but not on the “millage rate” side.
Actually, this is almost true.
We are “protected” by a 10 mill “ceiling.” But
since we are only at 1.5 mills, that would be a huge
rise in our millage rate.
(Article VII, Section 9 – Florida State Constitution)
OK – then we’ll put a cap on our millage rate.
Sorry – that’s against the law.
Our charter is prohibited from limiting the City
Council’s authority to levy property taxes. (Title
XIV, Chapter 195, Section 195.207 – Florida State Law)
We should lower our millage rate even more – from
1.50 to 1.43, for instance.
Our taxes are so low that we are sitting just above a
financial “floor” put there
by the state. The
“floor” is currently $8,523.247.31.
If we don’t collect at least
that much in certain revenues, the state will withdraw $2.2
million in revenue
now, we are about $360,000 above the state’s “floor.”
Another millage rate decrease would probably put us below the
state’s figure, and
the $2.2 million would be withdrawn.
Are you sure you want to do that?
The spending cap protects us from higher taxes and from
borrowing by the
spending cap protects us from spending.
may or may not translate
into lower taxes or reduced borrowing.
The city has just decided to borrow
almost $1 million to replace the bridge on Barfield just north
of Cedar Bay Marina.
The spending cap is in force, but it didn’t stop the
borrowing money to replace this bridge, even though it
had enough money in
the bank to pay cash.
spending cap will keep our city from going bankrupt.
called the Florida League of Cities, and spoke with Lynn
Tipton. If you want
to check on the following information, you can call her or Ken
Small at 1-850-222-9684.
I found out that cities in Florida had indeed declared
a “fiscal emergency,”
but it was due more to very poor fiscal practices than
The emergencies were caused by everything from embezzlement to
to bad financial decisions, to simply “nobody minding the
store.” The biggest
embarrassment of all was the famous Miami fiaso about 5 years
the Miami City Council suddenly woke up and discovered a $68
million debt they
didn’t know existed. Would
a spending cap have helped these folks?
I have heard all about what all of you went through
during the last few years.
I have heard the bitterness and recriminations.
Let’s not be so angry that
we put on blinders and wind up worse off than before.
We may have a spending cap, but if we get a grant from
the state, county,
or district, we can spend it.
Sorry – the spending cap doesn’t care where the
money comes from. If the
grant comes in under the cap we can spend it.
If it pops up above the cap, we
OK – if we get a $50,000.00 grant to repair storm
drains, and it’s above the
cap, we’ll just reduce the general budget by $50,000.00 and
spend it on something
else – like landscaping or road repair.
we could. Grants,
however, are pretty specific.
We not only have to use
them for exactly what we applied for, but we are
usually required to apply the
money in exactly the way the granting authority wants.
Therefore, we will usually
have to give the grant back to the grantor.
cap won’t hurt us if we borrow money.
cap makes us “hurt” twice as bad.
Take the Barfield Bridge as an example.
The City is going to borrow about $1 million to replace
the bridge. We are
paying about 5% interest.
The money in the bank is earning about 5%, so the
interest on the debt is a wash.
But the impact of the bridge on our budget will
be double what it would be without the cap.
When Bill Moss writes checks to
the contractors in 2001 and 2002, that money is “spending” and
will limit other things the city could be doing
under the cap. Then
to pay $95,000/yr for 15 years to service the debt –
and when Bill writes
that $95,000 check each year, that’s also
“spending” and will again limit
the City – even though we are getting nothing in
return. So the
the bridge impact our budget twice – once
when we build it and once when
we pay for it.
Our city government will run more efficiently under the
city government is encouraged to run less efficiently
under the spending
cap. If Bill Moss
doesn’t spend all the money he is allowed to spend, he
doesn’t get that amount + 3% + COLA (2.4%) next year.
What’s the responsible
thing to do? Save
the City $2 million, and next year get along on $2
million less, or spend the maximum to make sure you have
enough money for unforeseen
the City saved about $4 million over the last
3 years, with no help from the spending cap, and we have lower
than the County. But
the city had flexibility, since the cap wasn’t in force.
The spending cap takes away that flexibility, so
Bill has to take that into
can’t see into the future – no one can. If he comes
up short, due
to the spending cap, we will blame him – not the
cap. What would you
– I forgot this one when I was talking about millage rates.
rate is less than ours. Ours is 13.5539.
The City of Naples is 13.3121. But
the tax base of Naples is almost double the tax base of
The City Council can borrow money without telling
City Council must hold a public hearing before borrowing money against
the property tax revenue.
That is your chance to listen to their reasons for
the borrowing, and then to express your opinions. True, they
can ride roughshod
over your objections – but that is why you have the vote,
the petition, and,
as Jim Curran reminded them, the recall.
I guess the question is:
just how timid are we?
Do we want a spending cap to do our work for us,
or will we accept the responsibility of being the “bad
guy” and stepping up
to the speaker’s podium?
From what I’ve seen so far, we don’t seem to be
a “timid” bunch.
The City Council can raise our millage rate (to 10
mills max) without telling
City Council has to declare that it is going to raise the
millage rate, must
put a public notice in the Naples Daily News, hold a public
hearing, and do other
things as dictated by the state.
(Title XIV, Section 200.065
The City doesn’t have to balance its budget.
budget every year.
(Title XII, Section
Florida State Law)
We can’t limit borrowing by the City Council.
Oh yes we can!!
The city of Palm Coast has forbidden its city council from
borrowing more than a certain
amount or borrowing for more than a certain period
of time without a vote of the electorate.
like an election to alert the electorate!
No other city in Florida has a spending cap but
Here again, I called the Florida League of Cities, and
was told by Lynn Tipton
that to their knowledge, no other Florida city had a spending
cap. She was
talking about the cities they heard from on a regular basis.
She said if another
city had a spending cap, it could be limited to an ordinance.
about the spending cap. I
know that it sounds like I’m “anti-cap,” but,
I’m neutral. I don’t care if you keep the cap, modify it, or
get rid of it.