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Palm Coast Sets Intial Tax Rate 14% Higher With Goal of Whittling It Down By September

| July 26, 2011

palm coast property tax revenue

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Last Updated: 4:32 p.m.

The Palm Coast City Council agreed today to set its initial property tax rate for 2012 at a whisker over 4 mills, or $4.05 per $1,000 in taxable value. That represents a 14 percent increase from the current rate of 3.5, in place for the past two years. That’s the so-called “trim rate,” the figure that will likely be mailed to property owners next week. It is not the final rate. The final rate is likely to be somewhat lower, but not by much. Council members are not eager to cut services.

The council has until September to set its actual tax rate. In several hours of discussion today, members agreed to look at a series of savings, including reductions in fire services, elimination of funding for two economic development programs (including the $94,000 earmarked for Enterprise Flagler, the public-private partnership) and shifts of dollars between various pots of money.

Based on today’s discussion, one of the most controversial part of the budget-cutting proposals–closing Station 22 opposite Palm Harbor Parkway and laying off nine to 11 firefighters–was a no-go. “When we left there today, that fire house was still safe from the cutting board,” Council member Mary DiStefano said.

Another proposal with major implications for Palm Coast fire services entails eliminating Palm Coast’s role as a provider of advanced life support, or ambulance services. That would save more than $400,000, City Manager Jim Landon said–not by eliminating employees, but by paring back their salaries as their advanced life support skills (which the city has trained them for) would no longer be part of their job description. That proposal, too, appeared to have little appeal for council members.

Two other much talked about projects that are being eliminated, at least for now: a new city hall, and Palm Coast’s foray into desalination. As DiStefano described those, ““They’re there with a red indefinite.”

From the revenue side, council members floated the idea of raising the stormwater fee by $1 a month, to $9 per household. The proposal followed on the heels of a presentation about the city’s increasingly decrepit stormwater and bridge system, and the extensive repair that infrastructure will need over coming years.

“I will be proposing the dollar increase in the stormwater fee,” council member Frank Meeker said.

Ray Britt, the city’s finance director, prepared a spreadsheet that enabled council members to move numbers around in real time–increasing stormwater funding, for example, decreasing salaries of firefighters, and so on–to see how each movement would affect the bottom line. Numerous permutations were discussed, but none was agreed to as yet.

Council members tried using various money sources for one-time fixes, such as a $1 million pot now sitting in the city-run Town Center Community Redevelopment Agency, or CRA. City Manager Jim Landon and Finance Director Ray Britt repeatedly warned members against the tactic. Landon’s message: Don’t use a one-time funding source to run operating expense, and don’t assume that cutting an expense this year may be restored the following year. He mentioned last year’s scheme of ending capital funding (which the city did) in hopes of restoring it this year. “You see how difficult that is to have it back,” Landon said. “Because we don’t think this is a one-year kind of economic condition. You’re not going to be able to rebound next year.”

Britt also reminded the council that the city’s bond rating may be in jeopardy, costing the city more money in future interest payments. The reason: bond rating agencies want to know whether the city is committed to raising its tax rates to ensure debt payments. If agencies notice that the city is reluctant to do so, the bond rating is likelier to fall, and interest rates are likelier to rise.

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16 Responses for “Palm Coast Sets Intial Tax Rate 14% Higher With Goal of Whittling It Down By September”

  1. palmcoaster says:

    And the city of PC proposes to reduce or give away to the county our Fire Department?

  2. Joe A. says:

    I think the one who needs a salary cut back is the one who makes 183,001.02. After all government cut back needs to start with the politicians. Imagine what would happen if we went back to the earlier times when the representatives of the people worked for free. Maybe we wouldn’t have such high taxes, I am tired of paying so much money for politicians pay checks.

  3. Nick D says:

    My comment yesterday on article; “Flagler County Taxes Rates Will Go Up 12%, But Tax Bills Are More Likely to Go Down”

    – Unemployment Rate – increased to 14.6%
    – Property Values – dropped by 14.4%
    – Tax Rates – increasing by 12%
    – Flagler County Foreclosures – 1 in every 185 (June 2011)
    – School administrators and government employees – expected to get a raise with numbers like these in a down economy.
    – Nick D looking to move out of Flagler County – 100%

    Now today Palm Coast has jumped in with; “Palm Coast Sets Initial Tax Rate 14% Higher With Goal of Whittling It Down By September.

    Nick D looking to move out of Flagler County – 110%

    Let me ask you this. How many time have we seen our local, so called, “representatives” set a “goal” and not reach it? If you seriously believe the city council will “whittle down” taxes once they see dollar signs; you are seriously delusional and I wish I could live in the la la land you are stuck in!

  4. palmcoaster says:

    They don’t get it the fact that we have 16.5% unemployment don’t they? They propose rising to 14% but at the same time annex more land with Graham, Swamp…more maintenance. Just because on city’s findings, can be developed. Hello? If I would agree to pay more taxes is not for that, is to retain our city workers and preserve our services!

  5. Nick D says:

    What happens when people start moving out of Flagler because of higher taxes and unemployment? What will the City and County tax revenues look like then? Or will they just keep upping the tax rate again to cover that too? In that case feel sorry for the 15 people left in Flagler County at that point; paying 60% of their income in taxes.

    Funny thing about people when they get squeezed…they will find a cheaper place to live!

  6. Rob says:

    This shortage of tax revenue is not news. Or at least it shouldn’t be.

    It has been happening for the past several years and will continue on for several more.

    It seems that these folks wake up one day and say oh my the budget, what are we going to do.

    The same thing and more of it is going to come, so the prudent course of action would be to begin making a plan now not next year.

  7. Gator says:

    Right on Nick D!!!!! . Pretty soon they’ll be the only ones able to afford to live in this county! Along with the elite rich and the School administrators. Keep it up & all of us little people will be out of here. You don’t see ANY of them taking a CUT in pay, nope, they want raises. What are they going to do when people start leaving this county because they CAN’T AFFORD TO LIVE HERE.

  8. PCFACTMAN says:



  9. palmcoaster says:

    These workers have no rights, no unions, no fair pay, no benefits. But Apple and its investors make it big. Appleshares when up in 4 years form $29 to over $400 each! Slavery is very profitable for Apple and others operating in the same way.
    America used to punish the sweat shops and other workers abusive manufacturing. Since the Bush era no more prosecution. Tax all these gadgets and bring our jobs back. I sure do not buy them.

  10. lawabidingcitizen says:

    Nick, let us know where you’re going. Maybe we’ll join you.

  11. Nick D says:

    @ lawabidingcitizen

    I’m not sure where I should head to be honest. But I can tell you this; I’m seriously looking at my options. There are several things I will be taking into consideration; taxes, unemployment, and the ability of the elected representatives to do just that, represent the people and not ‘lead’ them down a path of “I know better for the masses.”

    No need to “show me the money.” I’m more then capable of earning my own. So, just “show me the jobs” and I will take care of myself. Well, unless I’m taxed to death.

  12. Layla says:

    We have a city election coming up soon with several new candidates. How’s about we all show up and vote?

    Seems to me this Council could use some new blood.

  13. palmcoaster says:

    Agreed Layla.

  14. Liana G says:

    @ Nick D

    I hear ya. I too am counting down the days. Death and taxes are the two certainities in life – let me die in a place where I’m happy to pay the taxes.

  15. palmcoaster says:

    Kudos to our City of Palm Coast council woman Mary Distefano for taking a brave stand opposing the hand out of our Fire Department to the county, as she says if any should be the other way around the county FD come under the Palm Coast one! This news just out! This is our Palm Coast Fire Department and we, Palmcoasters paid for it! Go Mary Go. This is your last serving term in the council as per our city charter. You been re elected every single time you run and now in your victorious way out, please do for us the resident tax payers that put you in office every time, all what is fair for us, not for developers or special interest.. For sure you will be remembered as our representative and friend. I can see in not a distant future your name some where around our city…maybe in one of our Fire Stations for taking a stand for our Palm Coast Fire fighters. As well as I expect you to spear head the suggestion that our Linear Park name will be changed to former city councilman name “Jerry Full Park” as deserved for Jerry’s relentless hours spent handing flyers and in city and county meetings opposing the closure of our grand father in intracoastal walkway along the park, we will not be enjoying it now. His adamant fight against the special interest of developers wanting to encroach our water front walkway along the intracoastal north and south of the St Joe Canal deserves our permanent remembrance.
    Also please lobby to place signs in both sides of the Linear Park on PC Pky as well as Colbert Lane to the tune of: “Please slow down wildlife crossing” Or “Caution wildlife crossing” The amount of road kill from bears (one mother bear two years ago or so), deer (we have pictures and video), squirrels, hawks, owls (we have pictures) and turtles to straight cats, due to vehicles at high speeds is very sad. I know city makes its own signs so should not be any expense. Our appreciation in advance!

  16. palmcoaster says:

    I would not mind paying the taxes if I were living among the rich and famous . Unfortunately that is not the case. There are not enough well payingl jobs there for anyone to survive (That is of course with the exception of those whose salary the taxes cover. If you are thinking about moving here. Be smart and do a thorough research about how you will survive, unless you are rich of course!!!!!!!

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