Tavares, FL - July 21, 2014
Call for Action:
If you are concerned about the County raising your property taxes up to 18%
or more, you should be at the first approval meeting which is tomorrow,
Tuesday, July 22 at 9am. It is the first of three meetings where the Lake
County Board of Commissioners start the process to approve property tax
millage rates by 18% or MORE. Tomorrow, they will set the maximum millage
rate increase which will be on your property tax TRIM notice. The actual
millage rate could be set lower at two future meetings.
In my opinion, County Chairman Jimmie Conner is requesting all parties to
pile on with budget requests to build up a big pot of "needs", then scale it
back to maybe 5-8% and look like a hero. So the problem is not only the
millage rate, but which services will be funded. So you need to provide
input on both.
Don't let Board Chair Jimmie Conner fool you - In my opinion there are a lot
of questionable smokescreen items or unjustified items in the budget
If you don't think tax increases of 18% or more are warranted, you need to
email the County Board, phone them or give public input at the meeting
There are two legitimate reasons why some increased taxes are needed:
- County staff have not received a wage increase in several years.
Most government agencies are asking for a 3% wage increase. I got 1% in
social security increases, so what is fair? You need to speak up. Probably
the 3% is fair since they haven't received anything in years.
- The County has had shortfalls for the last 3+ years, but were
subsidizing the shortfalls by draining the cash reserves. Now they are
down to a required cash reserve of 7% and no other cash reserves to offset
shortfalls. If you think that services should be at the same prior years,
it will require a tax increase to replace the lack of reserves. My wild
estimate for a justified millage increase is 5-6% since the budget
presentations have not been formatted in a manner to segment the requests by
justified and somewhat justified and not justified. That does not include
funds for the Sheriff - see below for conditions for that approval.
I disagree with approval of the Sheriff's budget increase due to the reasons
Some people think the Sheriff's budget should go up $3.2-million or about
5.6% to pay for wages and other "needs". However, he has never had public
hearings for his proposed $60-million budget. He has never had any
performance audits to ensure operations are not fat. He does not publish
detailed budgets online for the last five years. The County, the School
District do all three, but why not the Constitutional Officers or Sheriff?
Shouldn't the County Board require them before approving budget hikes for
the Sheriff? I think so.
Call for Action
If you don't act, you just might get a property tax hike of 18% or MORE.
On Tuesday, the Board will set the maximum millage rate that can be later
approved at two public hearings. If you have reasons why the tax increase
should be lower, you need to inform commissioners by email or phone, or
provide public input at the 9am Board meeting tomorrow.
You can get the Board members contact information here:
Click their name in the left column to get their phone and
The Board meeting starts at 9am in the round County Administration building
at 315 West Main St., Tavares, and usually the Sheriff deputies and
Firefighters show up and take many seats. So get there early if you want a
seat with a good view, then fill out a public input card and give it to the
court clerk so you will be called. Enter the subject as Tab 30, "Discussion
on setting millage rates". They already have had budget presentations
(see links above), so this might just be setting the millage rate, which is
what you want to comment on.
The agenda item description is:
"Discuss and set millage rates to be included on TRIM notifications. Approve public
hearing dates and times for September 9, 2014 @ 5:05 p.m. and September 23,
2014 @ 5:05 p.m., and approval to advertise these public hearings. There is
no fiscal impact." <<< Ignore the statement about "no fiscal impact".
That is not correct in my opinion. Any millage increase over ZERO will
increase YOUR taxes.