City Commission Sets 13% Increase in Property Tax, Commissioners Criticize Budget Process

City Commission Sets 13% Increase in Property Tax, Commissioners Criticize Budget Process

In a public hearing that started at approximately 6:30 pm and lasted past 10:30 pm, 50 speakers let their voice be heard on Wednesday night at City Hall.

After patiently listening to all who asked to speak, the Tallahassee City Commission voted 4-1 to approve a tentative 13% increase in the city’s property tax increase.

The current rate is 3.7 mills. The new rate, if approved next week as expected, will be 4.2 mills.

The speakers included a number of citizens asking City Commissioners to spare any cuts to social services and to the parks and recreation department.

Another well represented group, Citizens For Responsible Spending, was led by Barney Bishop who presented the Commission a path to a “no tax” budget that included new revenue and spending cuts. The group previously presented their proposal in a press conference on Tuesday.

The motion to increase the property tax by .5 mill was made by Commissioner Ziffer and seconded by Commissioner Nancy Miller.

Commissioner Ziffer proposed using $2 million from the BP settlement and recommended other cuts to reduce the amount of the tax increase.

City Commissioner Scott Maddox, as he has promised for months, voted against the increase.

However, the big story beyond the increase in the property tax, was the criticism of the City’s budget process.

Commissioner Curtis Richardson proposed a citizens budget committee. He said the Leon County School Board had such a committee and he thought it would be helpful to the city moving forward and would provide a way for interested citizens to have input earlier in the process.

Commissioner Scott Maddox was more critical. His comments about the lack of review of each department echoed a common theme presented by critics of the tax increase.

Maddox said, “Before I would advocate for a property tax increase, I would want to able look a citizen in the eye and say that I looked at every last possible scenario to avoid it. I don’t think we’ve even come close to doing that as a government.”

See the video below:

“This Aint No Way to Run a Railroad”

One of the more entertaining and illuminating exchanges about the lack of a budget process took place between Commissioner Scott Maddox and Commissioner Gill Ziffer. Maddox started the exchange by saying “This ain’t no way to run a railroad.”

View Maddox’s comments below.

Commissioner Ziffer, clearly frustrated by the budget process, tells Commissioner Maddox “the train is leaving the station.”


7 Responses to "City Commission Sets 13% Increase in Property Tax, Commissioners Criticize Budget Process"

  1. City government officials typically ask for tax increases for population growth….do we have growth? NO. They need to concentrate on improving the performance of police and fire fighters.

  2. It is clear that even the people are not unified on what they want and how to achieve their interests. Our polity (people organized politically) is splintered and marginalized; it is no wonder that our elected officials appear like gerbils on a wheel. Who is advocating that these officials conform to their Oath or Affirmation to support the Constitution(s), and that they heed the people’s right to “instruct our representatives” (FL Constitution, Article I, Section 5)? Is there even a clear mechanism in place for such purpose? No.

  3. When government exceeds those limited and necessary functions as evidenced by all of this spending, then tax increases are a natural solution to those unwilling to limit government to a proper role. When only 50 people at most show up to protest a 27% tax hike, the politicians know they can get away with it. The sad fact is voter apathy will likely carry them through the next election(s).

  4. Tallahassee is well on its way to becoming yet another Detroit-like implosion of outrageously mismanaged government, as this is exactly how it starts. It’s now my plan to be selling my buildings downtown (most likely as short sales) and re-locating to where there isn’t this kind of cultural failure, corruption, ignorance and also cognitive dissonance.

    The only true purpose of government is to protect God-given rights. Anything more simply isn’t a purpose of government. In Tallahassee, we obviously have unlimited and infantile government… and it’s the government the people deserve.

  5. I am not sure why commissioners are complaining about the “process” especially at this point. If three commissioners told the city manager in their private meetings with her to scrap the current process or the property tax increase, I suspect she would have brought back a list of potential spending cuts on which they should make a decision. However, at least three of the commissioners have no desire to do that. The city manager only has a master’s degree from Central Michigan University, but even she can count to three. This is not about the “process,” this is about at least three commissioners who wanted to dip too quickly too deeply into the pockets of the taxpayers. And don’t think the city is the only one doing this. Next year, the county commission is asking for a 13.33% increase in the sales tax. And by the end of the teens, the county commission will be increasing the EMS MSTU millage by 50%. They are already spending down the fund balance, which is projected to be exhausted by the end of the teens. So, get used to it, Fellow Taxpayers.

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