Since my name was mentioned in Mr. Al Aftoora’s Letter to the Editor July 27, I feel I must respond. Mr. Aftoora states that our financial shortfall is all due to the rapid population growth in St. Johns County over the past 10 years. He wants the Board of County Commissioners to stop all new residential building permits in the county and to impose it immediately. His letter reminds me of the two to three calls I get a week stating, “I got mine, now make sure no one else gets theirs.” In real estate law, there is something called PROPERTY RIGHTS!
The financial concern I’ve stated is not all due to growth. It has been heavily affected by the following circumstances:
* The ad valorem tax reduction of 2008
* Tallahassee putting a cap on real estate taxes collected by the county in 2007 no matter how positive the growth in the economy
* A major setback, called the great recession, that started in 2008 that has currently left the county behind by over $300 million in deferred maintenance and deferred capital expenditures
* Hurricane Matthew, for which we have paid millions and will continue to do so for years to come
* The state legislature’s idiotic passage of $25,000 additional homestead exemption that will cost the county another $9 – 10 million in 2019 to take effect in 2020 and every year thereafter
* St. Johns County has the second lowest tax rate of the 67 counties in Florida and is 58 percent lower than in Duval County.
These are the reasons for the financial shortfall that will hit in the next two years.
As for the impact fees, I predict that they will be going up substantially this year. However, this will not even begin to solve the problem.
Lastly, you state that we should be “reviewing the property tax rate and make appropriate adjustments.” Why would the county commission raise the millage rate by 1.5 points to gain $32 million of which the residents of St. Johns County would pay 100 percent, versus a one cent sales tax that would bring in the same $32 million of which approximately 8 million tourists and passers thru would pay 40 percent of the revenue?
We need to have a funding source going forward; we don’t have that now! A sales tax would have been the best and most equitable solution. Unfortunately, it’s no longer an option.
St. Johns County Commissioner, District 4
Ponte Vedra Beach