Palm Coast and Flagler County government this week adopted their budgets and tax rates for the 2023-24 fiscal year with little controversy and so few people in the audience at final hearings that you could count them on one hand. The county raised taxes, the city kept its taxes flat. Palm Coast going back to the rolled back rate was not unique, as some council members claimed or thought.
The Flagler Beach City Commission Thursday will vote on what could be the single-largest tax increase on development in the city’s history. The city is considering adopting higher impact fees on water and sewer connection, and imposing new impact fees for police, fire, parks and recreation services, which it has not had until now.
It’s messaging in a bit of a shamble, the Flagler County Commission on Monday beat a retreat on two fronts: it will not seek cities’ support in an attempt to raise the sales tax an additional half penny. And it will not raise the special tax Daytona North residents pay for road maintenance. Both issues had been controversial. The retreats underscore a combination of lacking, poor and conflicting messaging from the County Commission on one side and a rueful public reaction to both proposals on the other.
As more motorists drive electric vehicles, the change could put a dent in gasoline taxes, which play a key role in funding transportation projects in Florida, according to an analysis by state economists.
While these are budget cuts only in relation to the initially planned budget for next year, they nevertheless will have the effects of actual budget cuts in many regards, because they go against the grain of growth in the budget intended to maintain services and what City Manager Denise Bevan referred to as the city’s customary forward-looking approach.
Reeling in a school’s worth of red herrings, County Attorney Al Hadeed today fervently defended the authority of County Commissioner Dave Sullivan to ask Flagler Beach government a week and a half ago to pull from discussion a request from the County Commission for support of a proposed increase in the sales tax.
Flagler County government is attempting to convince cities and the public to support an increase in the sales tax using false information, deceptive reasoning and cowardly politics. Local governments have legitimate needs for more revenue, but fooling the electorate isn’t the way to do it.
The Palm Coast City Council Tuesday evening agreed to an unprecedented and very expensive forensic audit of city finances, the sort of audit usually predicated on suspicions of wrongdoing, despite a lack of evidence of any wrongdoing and routine, annual audits and a finance department that just as routinely wins annual awards for transparency. The council was responding to public demands driven more by ideology and general dissatisfaction than facts.
Flagler County government is disseminating false information about the proportion of the local sales tax paid by visitors as it seeks letters of support from Palm Coast, Flagler Beach, Bunnell and Beverly Beach to increase the county’s sales tax by half a percent.
The Palm Coast City Council is set to abandon the unpopular franchise fee it proposed adding to electric bills only last week. City Council member Theresa Pontieri said today she will withdraw the motion that she’d made on July 18. The reason, according to the city manager: Florida Power and Light won’t accept the city’s terms.