Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Taxman, Pinellas edition

Let me tell you how it will be
There's one for you, nineteen for me
'Cause I'm the taxman, yeah, I'm the taxman

Hide your wallet if you live in Pinellas, my friends.
Property values are expected to rise in Pinellas County for the first time in five years, but that didn't stop county Administrator Bob LaSala from suggesting another tax rate increase.
LaSala unveiled a proposal Tuesday to raise the general fund tax rate by 5 percent next year, a move that, if approved, would mark two years of consecutive hikes. The increase is needed, he said, to cover raises for county and sheriff's employees, as well as a state mandate to increase retirement contributions.
Should five per cent appear too small
Be thankful I don't take it all
'Cause I'm the taxman, yeah I'm the taxman

Don't forget that St. Petersburg is planning on spending at least $50M tax dollars a new pier.
The proposal for the Lens includes a dramatic lighting plan that will include a display in the evening.
Artist rendering of the propose Lens to replace the St. Pete Pier
Other municipalities in the area are doing a better job holding the line on taxes while the economy is "recovering".
Rising property values have prompted other municipalities to hold the line on taxes. Hillsborough County, which also plans to give its employees their first raises since 2009, is keeping tax rates flat. And neither Tampa nor St. Petersburg, which is in the middle of a mayoral election, have announced plans to raise rates.
Of course, this property tax increase will be in addition to the proposed 14% sales tax increase referendum the esteemed Pinellas County Commission overwhelmingly voted to place on the ballot for November 2014.
Pinellas County commissioners on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved putting a question on the Nov. 4, 2014, ballot that would ask residents whether they would pay a higher sales tax to support a major overhaul of the transportation system.
The referendum would ask residents to vote on whether to raise the county's sales tax by up to 1 cent — potentially lifting it from 7 to 8 cents to pay for major changes to the public transportation system. The sales tax, which would bring in about $128 million, would replace the property tax that currently funds the county's transit agency, the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority.
If you drive a car, I'll tax the street,
If you try to sit, I'll tax your seat.
If you get too cold I'll tax the heat,
If you take a walk, I'll tax your feet.

Even the Tampa Bay Times, friend of the Taxman, in a brief moment of partial sanity, editorialized Go easy on tax increase.
County administrator Bob LaSala believes its time for the county to start planning for the next recession, but county commissioners need to consider the broader view of what's best for the taxpayer, not just for county coffers.
LaSala proposed raising the tax rate about 5 percent to cover additional operating costs without dipping into reserves. But he proposed another 4 percent increase to flow to reserves in anticipation of a future recession. The combined impact: The county's property tax millage rate would grow from $5.01 per $1,000 taxable property value to $5.49. 
Don't ask me what I want it for
If you don't want to pay some more
'Cause I'm the taxman, yeah, I'm the taxman
The economic cloud for many families in Pinellas hasn't fully parted, and a county government that takes more money out of their pockets to simply stash in reserves won't be helping them.
But of course, the Times has been the biggest cheeleaders for the transit taxes.

Now my advice for those who die
Declare the pennies on your eyes
'Cause I'm the taxman, yeah, I'm the taxman
And you're working for no one but me.

Or could it be that the Times sees the proposed property tax increase puts their hallowed transit tax increase at risk?

Lyrics courtesy of The Beatles Taxman, written by George Harrison.  Here's a George Harrison version, with Eric Clapton.

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