Brevard County Commissioner Trudie Infantini: TAX CAP Referendum Is In Jeopardy
By Trudie Infantini, Brevard County Commissioner // July 20, 2016
'I say we have a spending problem'
The following is an open letter distributed July 20 to the residents of Brevard County from Trudie Infantini, Brevard County Commissioner, District 3.
Dear Citizens of Brevard County,
ALERT: Our voter-approved (2008) TAX CAP referendum on property taxes is in jeopardy.
County Commissioners voted to hold a secret meeting (a/k/a “executive session”) after having a lawsuit filed against them where the Firefighter Union is questioning the legality of the Cap.
The TAX CAP was approved by 73% of the voters in 2008 to prevent run-away spending. Many current Commissioners feel we have a revenue problem and are in favor of doing away with the Tax Cap. I say we have a spending problem.
Our county manager submitted a budget last week that exceeds the voter-approved property tax cap. The tax cap can only be exceeded if there is a “critical need or an emergency.”
No such need was ever discussed or determined by the County Commissioners. This tax cap provision was obviously intended for unforeseen, unpredictable or uncontrollable events that require additional funds. Critical needs can only be determined after spending is prioritized.
I have attempted every year that I have been on this board to get budgetary spending prioritized, but to no avail.
So far, in the past 12 months, Commissioners have floated the idea of additional gas tax to fix our roads, sales tax to fix our infrastructure, and lagoon tax to fix the lagoon. When none of those caught on with the taxpayers the same leadership now claim “critical need” and “emergency” to circumvent the tax cap.
The real problem is that this board wants to make the public believe that there is no money for critical needs because it refuses to address non-core function spending, special districts and cash up-front to companies. We need to adequately fund and equip our deputies, firefighters and the salaries and benefits of our employees.
Our budget needs to be prioritized and funding for non-essential entitlement groups eliminated. Our lagoon and roads need to be improved as part of our budgetary process annually, not as a new revelation or as an “emergency” to justify a special tax.
A lawsuit was filed by our firefighter union (opposing the tax cap). They believe salary increases have been prevented due to the tax cap. However, that is just not the case. The tax cap was intended to force this board to prioritize and consider the core functions first when preparing our budget.
Help me fight higher taxes or come to support the need for them and attend our meeting July 26, at 9 a.m. in Viera, Building C. Contact my office at D3.commissioner@Brevardfl.gov or 321-952-6300 to confirm a last minute switch on the date was not made.
– Trudie Infantini, Brevard County Commissioner, District 3