Thursday, June 14, 2018

Ready, Aim, Tax

The old adage remains true: "The only certain things in life are death and taxes." And while you can die only once, there is apparently no limit to the number of times you can be taxed.

Why bring this up up now?

The highly controversial 1% sales surtax is coming up for a vote in November. Feelings run strong both ways. So it seems instructive at this time to look around and see what else is coming down the pike.

Is the surtax a temporary one off, a catch-up to pay for crucial projects, with nothing on the horizon to empty our pocketbooks?

Or are other taxes imminent? Is this tax increase just one of many coming our way?

Unfortunately, it is the latter. We are looking down the gun barrel at a slew of new taxes and some big increases to old ones. Even here in red, conservative Collier County, local government can't seem to get enough of our money.

Here is what we have to look forward to.

  • The newly created Stormwater Utility will need fees to pay for it, the exact amount uncertain at this time.
  • A new municipal services taxing unit is about to be imposed, without voter approval, on rural communities to the east.
  • Massive MSTBU tax increases have been levied on Pelican Bay residents, an average annual hike of 16% over the past three years.
  • The county is threatening to mandate that homeowner associations install generators in their community centers, a new tax, albeit a hidden one, for residents.
  • The North Collier Fire District is seeking a new funding plan that will raise taxes and fees for many in the district.
  • Conservation Collier, now resurrected, is pushing for a property tax boost to buy additional land.
  • Last, but far from least, is the proposed 1% local sales tax. To promote it, the county is allocating $100,000 of taxpayer money to convince taxpayers to pay additional taxes.
It's not a pretty picture.

We are told Hurricane Irma repairs have strained budgets, we have to hike spending to promote tourism, we have to spend more to keep the community a premier place in which to live.

And, to be fair, by most measures, our local government is effective, even admirable. It is careful, competent ... and insatiable. The answer to every problem, every need and, most troubling, to every wish seems to be a new tax.

And this with a nearly $5 billion increase in taxable property projected for 2018-19. More money coming in is apparently still not enough for our officials.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out in an election year.

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