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Flagler Beach Eyes Reserves and
More Taxes to Make Up Latest Revenue Loss

| May 25, 2011

Sunshine can\’t make up for the dark numbers: Flagler Beach city commissioners Tuesday crunched various ways to make up a projected #$465,000 loss in a $5 million general-fund budget. (© FlaglerLive)

It’s Flagler Beach’s turn to figure out how to make up for property values’ latest double-digit drop (17 percent as of January 1), which will cost the city almost $500,000 in revenue out of a $5 million general fund.

Tuesday afternoon, the city commission met to discuss its options. From a strictly fiscal perspective, those options aren’t nearly as complicated as the political implications. The city has four choices. City Manager Bruce Campbell outlined them: raise taxes to make up the revenue. Cut services. Raid reserves. Or do a combination of all three. Commissioners didn’t make decisions on Tuesday.

If the city were to raise the property tax to generate the same amount of revenue next year as it is generating this year—that is, to make up for the drop in values—that tax rate would have to go from $4.2 per $1,000 to $5.25, or roughly $100 for the average house—assuming that that house has not seen its value decline. The city is reluctant again to do what it did last year, which was to rely almost entirely on a property tax increase (22 percent last year) to balance the books.

The likely outcome is that combination approach, particularly since the city is sitting on a sizable general fund reserve approaching $3 million.

To put that in perspective: Flagler Beach’s general-fund budget is six times smaller than Palm Coast’s, but its reserve is larger by about $1 million. The reason: Flagler Beach city commissioners have been willing to raise property taxes in the past few years to make up for lost revenue, and expenses in the city have been relatively modest.

Five years ago Flagler Beach’s property tax was $3 per $1,000 in taxable value. That means a $150,000 house with a $25,000 homestead exemption at the time was paying $375 in city taxes. In the intervening years, the property tax has risen to $4.2 per $1,000. That’s not to say that that $150,000 house is now paying $525, for two reasons: if that house has followed housing-value trends, its value is likely closer to $100,000 or $110,000. The homestead exemption has also been doubled, to $50,000. That means the taxable value of that house has dwindled to $60,000. The tax bill this year: $252.

It is a misconception, in other words, that property owners have suffered a serious tax increase in the last several years, although long-time homesteaded property owners have felt a larger pinch than others—just as, during the boom years, those same homesteaded property owners had been shielded from the rapid rise on taxable values because of Florida’s 3 percent cap on year-over-year increases in those values.

Take Flagler Beach City Commission Chairman John Feind’s tax bill. He lives in a 2,000-square-foot house on Oceanshore Boulevard, a house he bought in 1987 for $173,200. In 2010, it had a market value of $276,000 (down from $385,000 the year before), but was assessed at $162,000, with a $50,000 homestead exemption, leaving it with a taxable value of $111,000. Feind’s tax bill for Flagler Beach last year: $469, and $2,311 for all taxes, including county and school taxes.

In 2004, when Feind’s house had an assessed value 20 percent higher, he was billed just $346 in Flagler Beach taxes, and $2,045 overall. It looks like he’s had quite a tax increase over the years. Not so. Adjusted for inflation, Feind paid more in 2004–$2,434 in constant, 2011 dollars—than he did last year.

The preliminary taxable value this year on Feind’s house has actually gone up to $166,000, bucking the trend in the rest of the city. So if taxes were raised in the city, Feind would feel the full effect. On the other hand, Jane Mealy’s house was assessed at $198,000 last year. This year, it’s assessed at $168,000, a 15 percent drop. Even if Flagler Beach were to raise taxes 15 percent, Mealy would not feel the effects of the increase. Mealy’s case is more typical across Flagler Beach, where average property value losses are at 17 percent. (Keep that in mind when it comes time for commissioners to vote on next year’s property tax.) Feind, in fact, was more agreeable to using reserves than raising taxes.

Campbell, the acting city manager, set a goal for his department heads to find 10 percent in cost reductions, while Commissioner Steve Settle proposed that department heads find 5 top 7 percent in cuts, with the commission being responsible for finding 5 to 7 percent in new revenue. One idea not heard before, which Campbell conveyed: cutting back on night-time police coverage by contracting with the sheriff’s office to cover that shift. That idea didn’t get much support.

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25 Responses for “Flagler Beach Eyes Reserves and
More Taxes to Make Up Latest Revenue Loss”

  1. Art Woosley says:

    Simple answer, stop spending like “drunken sailors” as they say, start bringing in revenue from the day trippers, remember, they in many ways are costing our residents in the form of increased taxes . Our problem is, and has been for years now a “free town” attitude, for some that means come in buy a pizza, drink a few beers, drop your chicken bones and go home.

    Unfortunately that attitude leaves our widows, and orphans to pick up the tab, police, trash pickup, lifeguards etc.etc.

    However there always appears to be an obvious reluctance to use parking meters to bring in this needed revenue from day trippers ( **meters which by the way would be not cost local property owners a dime, as they would be issued a decal ) for their vehicle.

    While meters are the only real way to handle the costs of this ever growing influx, a more timid option for any faint of heart commissioner could be, to limit all downtown parking to two hours, for those people supporting our restaurants shop etc.

    Long term parking for those who wish to use the beach, fish or just hang out all day could be established on property located near the police and fire stations, and in our other parking lots for eight or ten dollars a vehicle per day.

    An in depth city parking study which incorporated every possible option,meters, revenue, long term, short term, drop off points, business implication etc. was done a few years ago by a committee of five including myself, but as unfortunately it was placed in storage on the back shelf.

    I have been a resident of Florida for 45 years, and have never seen any city being inundated as ours is at this time , without some sort of revenue stream coming in from parking.

    Since our revenues are now falling, and OUR crime rate is rapidly increasing, now up to somewhere around 17%, a number which you can be sure, is related to a less desirable element, who also come into our town looking for an easy mark, such the unsuspecting family type visitors, as well as our own locals.

    So now is the perfect time, for our city to move decisively in order to increase city revenues, and to lower the crime rate at the same time, but of course doing so will require courage on the part of our elected officials.

  2. Rodney Jordan says:

    Hi Folks, We spent out spring break at NSB this year. Man, what a fantastic town. On the way home north, we saw all the signs for Flagler County and Flagler Beach. We made the decision to check out Flagler Beach. And check it out we did. We were enthralled by the town. Everything I want in a town. Beauty, low crime, unbelievably friendly people, a health fitness type town, dog friendly everywhere, and an abundance of small town ambience. I saw no parking meters. I HATE parking meters. Put meters up and charge $8 to use the beach. Charge the day use people to use your town and watch them wave bye-bye and take their business elsewhere, maybe (nothing is ever for sure). My wife and I are going to be spending our Christmas at Flagler Beach. If things look as good in Christmas as we saw in our brief drive three weeks ago, we’ll be back in May. If things are still great, we’d like to move to Flagler Beach in two years. We intend on opening a business in whatever locale we live. Keeping a town running is never easy. If it were as easy as installing a few parking meters, I imagine every town would do it. Still probably not a good idea. Also, we met the acting city manager, Bruce Campbell, as well as one of Flagler Beaches police officers. I was assured by both of these men that crime in Flagler Beach is nonexistant. Could it really be that good? I checked a website the other day. Crime does appear to be very low in the area. We can’t wait to pay a real visit to the area. Good luck to Flagler Beach. May God guide you to making the proper decisions.

  3. Justice for All says:

    Charge for the parking. I, too, am appalled at the number of out of County plates when visiting Flagler Beach. I’d gladly buy a parking decal to support keeping this area from becoming like….New Symrna Beach. Hank Fishkind (UCF economics professor) has studied this issue for Daytona Beach and concluded day trippers spend very little, if any, money. Don’t be intimidated. We’ve got a great place to live and “Rodney Jordan” knows it.

  4. lawabidingcitizen says:

    John is that you going by the avatar of Rodney Jordan? Or maybe it’s you Jane? What a bunch of hooey. I’m surprised you didn’t bring up the convenience of short-term rentals for those passing through and by all means commissioners do raise taxes. Us yahoos who pay them are helpless and hopeless and you’ll get re-elected no matter how fast you destroy our little town.

  5. John Smith says:

    Welcome to Flagler Beach there Rodney. You are so right. Please do not take any offense in what Art Woosley or Lawabidingcitizen have to say, as if it was up to them they would get RID of all the services. They like to throw out there all of these ridiculous numbers so people are afraid to live here and get any growth in the city to help with a increase in some kind of revenue. The comment from the ACTING city manager is just the start of what ART WOOSLEY would like to see happen here, by bringing the County in here to take the place of the PD AND OTHER SERVICES. That is about a stupid a statement as that guy and his group of CCFBs. They said they wanted to see how he was going to handle the budget well there you go. ART iis doing his work again. STAY STRONG COMMISSIONERS DO NOT GIVE INTO THIS WAY OF THINKING. There is NO better place than Flagler Beach.

  6. Rodney Jordan says:

    Absolutely no offense taken. Everyone has a right to an opinion. Free speech is much protected. Those freedoms were bought with blood of Americans.
    Recently, the high school where I substitute teach, won a state championship. I would’ve thought everyone would be happy for not only the kids, but for the coach. Not to be. The jealousy appears to have already started. The statement was made by another local coach that this guy never played one single organized baseball game and played exactly one basketball game. Yet this coach led his team to the state championship. I asked this other coach why didn’t a more qualified person take the job. His response………….”Nobody wanted it”. “HUH”??? Whatever.
    My dad is a retired small college/high school basketball official. I attended hundreds of his games. He was the best. He was an official for 35 years. He presently teaches courses on rules and teaches other officials how to handle themselves and the game. There was one particular fellow who always screamed and stomped his feet while my dad officiated the local high school. One day, during an intersquad scrimmage, they invited him down to try his lips with the whistle. Guy made a fool of himself and swallowed the whistle. Not as easy as it looks. He lasted a few minutes and took a seat. Shut his mouth after that.
    I met Bruce Campbell and spoke with him for all of three minutes. I do not know his political affiliation, whether he attends church, where he lives, or his favorite place to eat. Silly to imply that I am partial to the man. I don’t know. I get to know Mr. Campbell, I may not want to be in the same room with him. But he did welcome me to Flagler Beach. Quite an impression for the area since he was the first person I met.
    Fellows, if you are unhappy with the way the town is being run, you have the freedom to move. Leave. Leave soon. You are negative. No one is making you live in Flagler Beach. If that idea does not attract you, then do as the goofball imitation whistle blower did. Blow the thing. In other words, throw your hat in the ring. Become a candidate. Run for office. Make Flagler Beach a better place. Don’t just sit on the sideline and complain.
    The reason I hate parking meters comes from experience. I attended a major university in the Mid-Atlantic area. I fought for a meter everyday I went to school. Maybe meters are money earners, but not good ones. I had to find a meter. If I were wanting to hit the beach at Flagler and could find no open meter, I’ll leave. I’m NOT going to drive around the block looking for an open spot. When I leave, I won’t buy gas, I won’t buy the fountain pop, I won’t buy a pizza and I won’t fish from the pier. I guess that means I won’t buy bait either.
    I really can’t tell if Justice agrees with me or not. I don’t think he does. Not really sure what he finds wrong with NSB. Other than the need to crack down on the drugs, NSB is awesome. Friendly people with a fantastic downtown. Not sure what Justice finds wrong with NSB. Of course, I was just visiting. I guess the lack of pet friendly beaches is what resulted in my wife and I not wanting to go back.
    If we choose to move to Flagler Beach, I won’t be on the sidelines. I plan on getting involved in a local office. Probably the school board or town council. I also have a general idea for a business plan. I’ll develop it over the next year. I sincerely look forward to contributing to making Flagler Beach a better place. I am not one to stand on the sidelines. I am not only looking to build my business. I’m also looking to do the right thing for the youth, elderly, needy and anyone else who could use some help. And God knows we all need help at some point.
    One last thing. We should be in the area at Christmas. May do something really dumb and take an hour of my time and attend a town council meeting. I’ll look forward to seeing lawabidingcitizen and Art in attendance. I’m sure they’ll be there. PEACE, TO ALL, Rodney

  7. John Smith says:

    Rodney you are most welcome to to the beach, Do yourself a favor and you might want to save that hour for your holiday. The meetings last for hours and Art and LBC will be in the back catcalling and booing the commission on what they are working on. If you are here around the 1st weekend of Dec we have a great Christmas at the beach. Flagler Live is a good place to get the pulse of what is going on in the city glad you have found it. The CCFB is the most negative group in the city as you will find out by reading here. They do not want growth in the city and just complain about the money and services here. WE ARE LIKE NOWHERE ELSE, WE ARE FLAGLER BEACH.

  8. HSART says:

    We would Hate to see “Parking Meters” in Our Little Town for Shure!! If We Need to “GENERATE” some Funds, Lets Start with All the VehiclesParked Along our Beach Right along side the NO Parking Signs, by the way they Dont have out of County Plates most are Out of State Plates!! My wife and I see them EVERY Day for Hours!!! Speaking of Parking we just had the DowntownBuitification Done, Why are all the Vehicles allowed to “PARK” on the Grass that is NOT a Designated Parking Spot???? Any Given Friday During the Farmers Market There are Cars Parked Everywhere, Lined up on the Grass in Front of the PD, On the Sidewalks, They Take our Parking at the Post Office and Nobody does Nothing??? Where is that Wonderfull Motorcycle Officer we used to see Writting Tickets??? How about the Parks, Signs Clearly State “NO DOGS ALLOWED”, Watch where You Walk, Dog Poop EVERYWHERE, WHY??? The Wife and I stopped at the “Burrito Works” to have some lunch, my wife asked to use the Bathroom, and was told they DONT have any Bathrooms, Go use the Public RestRoom at the Pier??? How is this Possible???? Dont tell us its only a “TAKEOUT< cause its NOT!!!! How about some "ENFORCEMENT" in this TOWN!!! Skip the Parking Meters and Get Some People OUT Doing what they get PAID to DO!!! Staying on the Parking Issue, We see the Pier Guard also Charging for Parking in the Lot along side City Hall, Who does that money go to, the city put all that work into it are we getting our Money back and if not is it Liscensed to be collecting Funds?? Hope its being Reported to the IRS, Because we told them!! One Last Issue we would like to put out there, WHY Does the Flagler Beach Motel always have a Large Pile of Trash Bags sitting out on A1A Everysingle Day its an EYESORE!!!!!!! Again Lets Start with Some "ENFORCMENT" and Keep OUR Little Town like it is, Dont Want a Palm Coast Beachside and thats where we are Headed!!! We are Not, and Never will be a Tourist Based Town!!! Keep our City Services, and WAKE UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. John Smith says:

    HSART, You are right on all counts. I can tell you that the guy at the motel of which you speak is having a personal problem with the garbage guys. If you notice on MONDAYS and THURSDAYS they PICK UP what he puts out for them as they are suppose to do. Now AFTER they leave and some time later they put out more bags of garbage out to prove somekind of point. Our Garbage guys do a great job and keep this city clean which is why this is a DISGRACE and a DISCREDIT to them. The city needs to step up and enforce there garbage ordinance on him and make him quit putting out the other bags, BUT it is like all the other ordinances they have, they CANNOT get the people out to do unless they want something done to make them look good.
    Burrito Works is like you say also taking advantage of the city, WHY DO THEY NOT HAVE THEIR OWN TOILET, Let the city clean up after there costumers on both ends. Campbell wants some respect why does’t he get his people out DOING some enforcement instead of just being everyones friend until he gets the full city manager job.
    What did the city pay for all the grass around the new parking spots?? Cars and GOLF carts park on it around the market and up at the Golden Lion. The little green golf cart with the Golden Lion sign on the back thinks he special and drives and parks all over town where he is NOT suppose. But the problem is there that the people get there $25 ticket and go and fight paying it and well its not enforceable so do not worry about it.

  10. curious says:

    Shame on Art Woosley and his buddies including Campbell. FB is a tourist destination like it or not and will continue to be as long as we keep the OLD FLORIDA atmosphere. We do not want to get rid of the Fire and Police departments, we do not want meters, and only the 20 or so Woosly cult followers and Campbell want these changes. Commissioners, stand strong. Watch how Campbell shows his lack of education, understanding, and proves that he is in the pocket of Art and Settle.
    We as residents welcome all and do not mind sharing our beautiful City with them. GROW UP!!!!!!

  11. Roger says:

    wow! ya’ll are a tough crowd! it’s a shame that people who actually work for the city have to come on here as an alias because they’re afraid they might lose there jobs. right steve, i mean, john smith? Steve, why can’t you just drive your garbage truck, be a volunteer fire guy, and be quiet ? I am really tired of reading all your worthless opinions about our City Government, our City Leaders and your insecurities about the possibility of having to reduce City services in order to balance the City budget, without raising taxes or spending hard earned reserves !

  12. Steve Wood says:

    Well Roger you might think or been told THAT THIS IS ME but as usual they are wrong also.. If you do not like what I have to say is thats to bad I really do not care. I live here and will be here retiring here. i DO MY JOB AND AM PROUD OF DOING IT.

  13. Steve Wood says:

    Thats is kind of funny there Roger I guess I could be curious also don’t you think. I live in the city so if I do not like something you can be sure I will say something as for I am not afraid of losing my job I can do my job there bruce.. I will not kiss anyones ass to get ahead either.

  14. Sherry Epley says:

    Wow! What an emotionally charged issue! Yes, our visitors can and should chip in, just a little, so that we residents do not have the total financial responsibility for the services that all enjoy. It seems to me that there is plenty of room for a reasonable compromise here:

    1. All current city ordinances/laws should be rigerously enforced. This would keep our officers busy and well employed, as well as bring in more revenue and keep our town looking beautiful. All restaurants/eateries should provide restrooms. . . it is the law.

    2. A FREE parking limit of 2 hours, in legal spaces, seems quite reasonable for most visitors. Long term/all day parking lots could could be made available with park and pay machines. . . for a very reasonable rate of say $4.00 for eight hours.

  15. HSART says:

    To Mr. Woods, We Read from Roger that You Drive the Garbage Truck, We are Assumming for Our City? We watched you going up A1A this morning Dumping the “Beach Cans” as we where eating Breakfast at “Maggies Cafe”. We Just wanted to say Thank You to You and Your Helper for the Good Service You Provide us with! We watched the Man on the Back picking up Trash all along A1A that People had just Dicarded on the Ground!! Just Wondering if You could possibly Do Anything to get the Flagler BeachFront Motel to Stop putting Large bags of Trash out to the Roadside EveryDay?? Why are they Allowed to do this and why dont they have the Brown Carts like all the ones we see around town?? The Bags must be Heavy! Once Again Thank You for the Great Service Your Dept. Provides us!!

  16. Art Woosley says:

    It appears from a number of comments, some people appear to have no problem at all paying higher taxes to clean up their city after the day trippers leave.

    Or for that matter, that of F.B s ever increasing crime rate is a direct result of this same uncontrolled influx. So one would guess, that we, as a city will be continuing down this current path for a while longer.

  17. Taxed says:

    Where would these parking meters go? Just downtown? Well just watch the free loaders start parking further north and south to avoid paying the meters! Then, as I witnessed yesterday they just walk accross the dune because they’re too lazy to walk to the cross over. Maybe alittle enforcemnt on the dune and some more signage. Has any body thought about a toll coming into town at the base of the bridge? That will keep the riff-raff out.

  18. Pam says:

    Flagler Beach city commissioners—–In these times of financial stress and searches for ways to balance the budget, have you thought of cutting your own salaries by 15 percent? If you have not thought of that, I would strongly suggest you do it as a leadership move to all the others you are asking to make cuts… Fortunately all commissioners appear to be financially stable enough to make this move without strain which is not the case for many residents who are being dealt higher fees as well as a tax rate increase on top of their shrinking incomes. .People are loosing their jobs (including 42 county school teachers) some families are loosing their homes. Its time to join the movement with the rest of us. Pam

  19. Terry says:

    Commissioners—-It is time to stop unnecessary spending, particularly for consultants, studies , lawyers etc. Doesn’t anyone in this city or in city hall have the knowledge and expertize to chart a course and make a decision.

    I was appalled to read that our Flagler Beach City commissioners are considering the hire of a real estate attorney to assist in a search for more prospective tenants for the Pier Restaurant. After months of floundering around with indecision and inability to craft a deal, now comes their usual search for help at the city’s expense.

  20. John Smith says:

    Well Art I do not know where you get your info at other than your imagination. The News Journal had an article from Flagler County when they were starting to do there budget and they broke down the Sherrifs office budget. They had a breakdown of all the cities in the county and their crime rate of which you speak, FB has the lowest in the county per residence in the cities. Why do you keep saying that we have a ever increasing crime rate other than to SCARE people here in town and keep the it from GROWING. What do you want ART no one to come to town that is what you are saying.We know what you are up to and it is not going to happen.

  21. Taxed says:

    It appears that our Acting City Manager is inept. Cutting night time police patrol gains nothing unless you cut positions on the department. This only gives the current police officers permanent day or evening shift. I’m sure they would be okay with that however, this shows the level of moronic competence at the top level of City Hall. Once you contract with the county you loose complete control and the costs are at the whim of the sheriff. Less service more cost! Just ask Deltona.
    Lets cut 15-20% of the 90K that our top City Manager is making, even better lets get somebody that actually knows what they are doing.
    Maybe Rodney can save us all!

  22. curious says:

    Dear Taxed, AMEN you are right on point

  23. HSART says:

    Just Wondering WHY we saw our City Police Officers Breaking Down the SpotLights in Vetrans Park at City Hall after the First Friday Bash?? We also saw what appeared to be a City Public Works Truck wich Would Make Sense to do what the police where Doing. We would Rather Had seen them Anywhere Near the Golden Lion or Finns for ALL the Illegal Cars Parked the Wrong Way, On the Sidewalks, in Front of the NO Parking Anytime Signs, WRITTING TICKETS!!!! That would bring up the Next Question, Are they the Officers on Shift or are they On Overtime for the First Friday Event?? If they are on Shift, Who is Patroling the City and if on Overtime Who Pays for The OT????? On Our way up A1A last night there was a Parade of People Walking Down What Appears to be a “PATH” in the “PROTECTED” Dune across the Street from the Topaz Hotel, Right Alongside their Delapidated Beach Walk Entry, Where is our Enforcement in this City, One thing we know for SURE, Their not in the Bathroom at “Burritto Works”!!! Oh and We see another interesting Combination, A Tittle Company/Bakery,Deli,Cafe Comming Soon Right Along Side the Golden Lion in the Old Car Quest Building and They have Eliminated the Parking Spots out Front with a Giant Gwady Awning Type Canvas ! Where are the Patrons Going to Park and Where is the Garbage going to sit??? Please Dont say Just Like the Flagler Beach Front Motel out on Scenic A1A Every Day????????

  24. Terry says:

    I wonder if FB commissioners have thought about Pam’s suggestion that they reduce their generous pay level about 15% to help offset the city’s loss of revenues. Everyone else is having to give up something in these difficult times.

  25. Hsart says:

    Just Wondering if anyone Knows what they Plan to Build behind the New Publix off of Roberts Road? Hope its not another Low income/Section8 Housing Project like the one to the West of Publix!! We see more Police and Fire Dept Vehicles in and out of there Day and Night!! Isnt that Property just Behind Publix CITY of Flagler Beach??? Sea Rays Address states Flagler Beach and thats way north on Roberts Road!! Whatever they are Building should Generate Some income for the City as well as some Much needed Jobs!!! We also saw the Removal of the Fuel Storage Tanks at the Jiffy on A1A that Closed.One Gentleman we spoke to that was involved in the Tank Removal mentioned it may become a Subway Sub Shop!!!! Again Generating Revenue and Jobs!!! If thats Fact we cant Wait!!! Just Thankfull its Not Going to Be Another BAR!!!! We Just got RID of The RIFT RAFT at the OLD MOTHERS!!! wich is Still A1A,S # 1 EYESORE, Front and Back!! Kudos to the Owners of the New “OCEANSIDE GRILL” on South A1A(the Old Manny,s) The Place Looks Great, Good Food and Service!!!! Hope all the Dads out there have a Blessed Fathers Day!!!

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