In response to Commission Chairwoman Barbara Revel’s voluminous article regarding their sales tax distribution proposal: The county wants a “fair compromise as long as it meets their current and future responsibilities,” which really means that they are looking for unlimited money to build extravagantly as they have done in the past with no strings attached or public oversight.
She failed to mention that when the county reduces the sales tax share the cities have relied on for the last 10 years, the city’s residents will have to pay higher city taxes to make up that difference.
She seems to downplay the fact that Palm Coast residents already provide the bulk of the county tax revenue. She also failed to mention that the county provides many services in the unincorporated areas that they do not provide to the cities, which means the cities not only have to pay for those services for themselves, but have to contribute to those services being provided in the unincorporated areas. Examples: code enforcement, road maintenance, etc.
Paid fire service in certain unincorporated areas was their attempt to provide urban services without making those areas pay separately. That service alone increased their fire budget by $4 million or $5 million, which everyone in the county pays for. Yet the cities pay for their fire service and the western county counts on volunteers.
She suggests that historically the county had agreed to provide Palm Coast with a greater share of the sales tax to help the new city get on its feet, which is ludicrous. In fact, the county was afraid to promote the original referendum on the sales tax.
On the other hand, Palm Coast knew it needed immediate repairs to its road system (which the County neglected for years when Palm Coast was a service district) and was prepared to sponsor the tax referendum itself if necessary. At that time any distribution that the county got was a windfall.
The jail expansion is indeed a necessity, which the county has failed to address for a long time. The tax distribution that has been agreed upon for the last three years will provide them with more than enough money for the jail. But they are now using the jail expansion argument to extract more money for themselves, and at the expense of the cities.
William Venne is a former member of the Palm Coast City Council.