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Public Service Tax

On Monday January 7, 2013, the Board of County Commissioners had an opportunity to eliminate the Public Service Tax paid by our citizens.  I am not opposed to reducing or eliminating this tax, however, I made the decision that I would not support this action, at this time.  I did not make this decision because I am now against reducing taxes.  I am very much in favor of reducing taxes and I am certain that I was elected because the majority of our citizens expect me to do so.  As a County Commissioner, I believe I have an obligation to gather and consider all of the facts before making decisions to allow me to fully understand the impact of those decisions and the cost that will be placed on our citizens. I don’t think I have ever met a single person who likes to pay taxes and I’m certain that no one wants their hard earned tax dollars wasted.  While none of us like paying taxes, almost everyone tells me they don’t mind paying their “fair share”.  I have spent a lot of time analyzing county taxes in an attempt to understand the best way to determine how much money is required for a tax payer to pay their fair share.  While each of us has different ideas of county services that are important to us, I think most of us can agree that the vast majority of tax payer’s dollars are spent on basic services that we all use, or have access to, when we need them.  The largest source of funds that pay for these services comes from the ad-valorem tax that is assessed against our properties.  Since this is the largest source of local taxes, it only makes since to look there, if we want to find ways to make cuts.  This is what I discovered.  In Wakulla County, there are currently 23,547 non-government parcels that are subject to taxation.  Our previous Board of County Commissioners established a millage rate for the taxes on these parcels at 8.5 mills.  That means, you and I are assessed a tax of $8.50 for every $1,000 of taxable value.  This tax currently generates slightly more than 8 million dollars to the tax role.  If we divide this amount by the 23,547 parcels, it’s easy to see that the average...