Friday, September 12, 2008

Should I say "I told you so" ?

Should I say "I told you so" ?

I just read it in a local South Florida newspaper:

Hollywood passes property tax rate increase to eliminate budget shortfall.

We all know that our legislature have mandated our cities last year to roll back their taxes.

And that real property values have declined substantially.

But, town after town, the local governments are finding their way to roll back any reprieve homeowners had got last year, and go on with the business-as-usual free spending. As many of us predicted, the resistance of the bureaucracy to the voters’ mandate has been very strong. Cuts in our services, charging us for previously free services, increases on services charges, and they saved for the end the most effective recourse: Increase the tax rate.

As I wrote before, your property taxes are calculated by multiplying the millage (or tax rate) by your taxable or assessed home value.

Since the taxable value is reduced, they just raise the tax rate. Et voila!

We voted to adjust the homestead exemption, to recoup part of our real-dollar losses due to inflation in the last decades. It wasn't long before they regrouped and hit us back.

You know the answer: raise the tax rate.

And then: make them pay for everything you can figure out.

Example: years ago, they reduced my garbage collection to once a week instead of twice.

My bulk yard-waste collection was reduced to once-a-year.

What do you think happened next? Savings for me? Wrong.

I got a reduced service which, according to the city, didn't degrade its quality.


And from then on, I only saw my bills going up, instead of down.

There are so many taxes that have been built in our way of life that we have come to accept them as natural: Just check your water bill, your sewer bill, your telephone bill, your electricity bill, your cell phone bill; they all include funny surcharges, excises, fees; so many that I gave up on trying to understand.

Review them, line by line; even a monthly fee for the 911 service is on one of my bills. These things have been building up and slowly squeezing the common person' budget year after year. I don't object. These are services and we've got to pay for them.

But then I see my home taxes bill and I realize that this one large bill is on top of all that.

I don't think that my quality of life has improved at all since they built these thousands of condos. The new construction was supposed to "increase the tax base". That might have sounded as a price to pay for some tax relief. Again, I was wrong. It only meant more traffic and congestion; and more taxes.

One of these days, I would like to calculate exactly how much of our taxes goes to pay for the fine town halls, the doing and undoing of our street landscaping every few months, the impeccable offices, the unending bureaucracy, and what more; perhaps I will then have a better idea of why they need to raise my taxes.

There are so many creative ways to nickel-and-dime us. Did you hear about some cities now charging good money to anybody who has a car accident in their territory, to cover their police expenses? There is truly an excellence in how our elected officers can figure out tricks to “balance their budgets”.

The bottom line, once again, is that most our local governments believe that the sacrifices must be made and the sufferings be endured by the governed.

A real solution cannot be found within the context of the old philosophy of waste.

But that was the “elegant” solution that Hollywood chose to solve their budget problems:

Cut the lean, but never cut the fat.

Check out how many white elephants can be found in your own town, as I they must have them in Hollywood, Miami Beach, or Pembroke Pines. Try to figure out how much waste and unnecessary spending you would avoid if you were a commissioner, and make up your own opinion.

And here is the article from:

The Sun-Sentinel September 9, 2008

Hollywood passes property tax rate increase to eliminate budget shortfall

Hollywood City officials on Monday passed on first reading a proposal that would raise the property tax rates slightly to avoid a $14 million budget shortfall and mass layoffs.

The proposal passed 5-2 despite outcry from residents who took turns pleading with elected officials for a financial reprieve.

Those who voted for it said the increase, which includes higher fire and sanitation fees, would still give homeowners a lower tax bill because of declining property values. About 81 employees would get to to keep their jobs.

Opponents — Mayor Peter Bober and Commissioner Heidi O'Sheehan — each said they wanted staff members to suggest further cuts before a final vote on Monday.

"It might sound like a small increase, but it's exacerbated by the higher fees," said Bober, before voting against it. "It's not a ton of money but there really are a lot of people who can't afford it."

The commission chamber was filled with employees and union leaders, but none of them commented. Some residents took aim at some of the soaring employee costs and urged commissioners to make bold cuts to the city's workforce of roughly 1,485.

"If you don't have the political will to do it, you are either part of the problem, or you are incompetent and you don't deserve the position you have," one resident said.

Under the proposed $324 million budget, property owners will see their tax rates go up to about $6.24 for every $1,000 of taxable value, an increase from the current $5.95.

A flat fire fee will go from $109 to $130 for every residential unit. Sanitation fees also will go up 10 percent each year for the next five years.

The measures would result in 26 vacant position being slashed, but nobody would lose their current jobs. It also means the owner of a $292,000 homestead home would see a savings of about $11 in city taxes, instead of the $49 under the current rate.

Henry B. Nathan is a Florida Realtor at United Realty Group Inc.Visit my website: you can search for Aventura Condos, Florida Condos,

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