Tavares, FL Wed., August 19, 2015
Short link to reach this page: http://bit.ly/NOpennytax
The debate is at at 7pm at the Tavares Community Center on 100 E. Caroline St. in Tavares.
Below is the flyer from the North Lake Tea Party for the event:
I will be one of the "NO" vote proponents, and reasons are further down. The other panelist opposing the sales tax renewal is Don Magruder from Romac Lumber.
Revenues from the sales tax are about $32-million per year, and it is then split into thirds for three groups: 1) Lake County Government, 2) Lake County Schools, and 3) a pot for all 14 cities in Lake County to split according to population percentages.
The taxes can only be spent for "capital" items like buildings, vehicles, computers or renovation of them (not maintenance or operations).
Naturally, the government agencies receiving a split of the collections want it to continue.
Then there are others like myself that think it should be voted down, OR voted down and put on next year's 2016 ballot with some new conditions.
You can see my video of a presentation FOR renewing the penny sales tax HERE. It was given by a Lake County Government manager at the August 17, 2015 meeting of the Lake County Capital Finance Advisory Committee and includes some questions. Below is the Powerpoint used for the presentation.
The above Powerpoint will be used by County Commissioner Tim Sullivan and others to show at various community meetings where they will ask attendees to vote YES to renew the bill. No opposing information is included in the presentation.
Who will be on the August 20 debate panel?
For: Lake County Commissioner Tim Sullivan and
Lake County Schools Board member Bill Mathias.
Against (Note the two local papers, the Daily Commercial & the Orlando Sentinel, only publish articles supporting the tax and do not interview or write about opposing reasons).:
Vance Jochim, author of this blog, FiscalRangers.com who reports on Lake County government. His reasons for voting no include:
- There are no conditions or limits on how the approximate $32+million collected each year are spent. Except for the limitation on use for capital spending, they can spend it on anything, no matter how expensive, they want. That is what happened in the last 15 years for Schools when they floated bonds to build Cadillac schools, then ran out of money during the recession, but still had to pay the debt payments.
- There is no promise to avoid selling debt ("bonds") to fund fast spending, leaving debt payments like the schools did for the last 15 years. (See Magruder article below). Already School Board member Rosanne Brandeburg is talking about selling bonds to build schools earlier, and some cities like Eustis & Tavares are talking about using bonds rather than living within their means. There should be a condition they can only spend as they collect the funds and live within their means, not sell bonds requiring future taxpayers to pay interest and bond fees. In one Don Magruder article HERE, he points out the Schools have paid over $100-million in interest over the recent 15 years, and are still in debt for over $300-million. The people who make money are the bond salesmen and the lending agencies charging interest.
- The County Board will waste over $400,000 to add this referendum to the this November's ballot because it is the ONLY item on the ballot in many precincts. They could have added it to next year's 2016 ballot at minimal cost.
- The County is using emotional arguments about what the funds will be used for. They even moved a planned $1-million fire engine expense from EMS budgets to the penny sales tax project list to boost emotional support.
- The County, Schools and Cities should be using other funding methods for justified projects by increasing property tax millage rates. They could also implement 100% impact fees, because any lesser percentage indicates lower than break even funding for roads, schools, computers, etc. The need does not go away at any percent less than 100%. The schools can also implement a referendum for a half penny tax, which would give them more revenue than this penny tax which also funds the County expensive projects like parks. Why should the penny tax be approved when the School Board and Lake County Board will not approve 100% impact fees to ensure those who create growth are paying for the infrastructure to cope with it?
Magruder has several blog posts citing reasons to vote NO at his blog at http://lakecountygov.info/ - Just scroll down and read the last 4+ articles.