If you ask 100 people how they want their tax monies to be spent, you will get 100 different answers. We will never come to a consensus or total agreement on where all of our hard earned income should be dispersed or which essential and non-essential services are more important that others. Does anyone ever want to spend more money on taxes? NO.
But currently, St. Johns County is spending its reserves, in addition to cutting services. Since the recession, our balanced budget has relied on the dependence of our savings. One thing we can all agree on is that is no way to continue.
So, the elephant in the room is...where do we get the funds to cover the necessary expenses of our county? Of course, the biggest chunk of income for the county comes from property taxes. But, that money comes 100 percent from the residents, and 49 cents of each dollar goes to the schools and NOT our operating or capital budgets.
If you look around you, and your shopping receipts, the sales tax in Duval, Clay, Flagler and Putnam counties is higher than ours. Sales tax is not paid by residents alone, but approximately 35 to 40 percent is paid by tourists and non-residents. The state of Florida gets the first 6 cents of the sales tax, and our county schools are now receiving the 1/2 cent raise. Any increase here would go right to the needs of our county.
Currently, the county is working on its 2018 budget. And they are looking at which essential and non-essential services will be further reduced. If we were to increase our sales tax by 1 percent, that would bring in approximately $28 million to our county in the next year alone. Yes, I know, all of you naysayers will say this will not solve all of our financial woes, but it's a pretty good chunk of green. And only some of it is coming out of my pocket.
Write and call your county commissioners NOW; just ask them for the right to allow us to vote! If our county residents want the sales tax increase and benefits it will bring, then we should have the right to vote on it. We need the commissioners to add it to their July 18 meeting agenda. Come October, when the new budget will be finalized, it will be too late to do anything about 2018, besides just wish we had done something sooner.
Ponte Vedra Beach