The Citizens for Responsible Spending held a press conference today to address the City’s proposed 23% increase in property taxes. The purpose of the conference was to provide recommendations for new sources of revenue and spending cuts that would balance the budget and not require a tax increase.
The speakers were business owner Barney Bishop, President of Florida TaxWatch Dominic Calabro and former Senator Al Lawson. They were joined by approximately 17 other interested citizens.
Tallahassee Reports was joined by other representatives of the media that included WFSU, the Tallahassee Democrat, and Rick Flagg of the Florida News Network.
Mr. Bishop said that he was disappointed that a “no tax increase” budget option was not provided to the Commission, even though it was requested by Mayor Gillum back on August 19, 2015.
Mr. Bishop said the he hopes the detailed recommendations by the group will give the City Commissioners a path to balancing the budget without a tax increase.
The group offered approximately $9.5 million in adjustments (see below).
The group’s recommendations included $1.5 million in revenue from the BP settlement money and a $3 million transfer from the solid waste reserve which has increased to over $9 million over the last five years.
The recommendations also included approximately $5 million in spending cuts.
Bishop concluded by saying that even after this budget is settled “we are going to keep the pressure on the City to provide an accountable and transparent budget process.”
Dominic Calabro, President of TaxWatch, began his remarks by saying we live in an all-american city, but the “current budget system is archaic and disconnected.” Citizens have stepped forward to offer good alternatives but the “city is absolutely out of touch.”
Former state Senator Al Lawson said the tax increase is a “very critical issue, as a business owner I know what happens when property taxes increase.” He implored the City to “look at alternatives before you raise taxes.”
Mr. Lawson stated that he believed that the staff was driving the need for the tax increase.