January 22, 2008
January is our planning month. Your Board has a variety of competing issues that beg for attention. Later in this eNewsletter I will give you a list of the issues we think need our attention and that we must prioritize. I would like to get member feedback on what issues are important to you. I receive almost daily emails from our membership, and these are much appreciated as they help keep us grounded. Please continue to provide feedback and support; it's vital for us.
There is an important Constitutional Referendum on January 29th, and there are many misconceptions concerning this new proposed amendment. The Florida legislature met a record five times last year in order to craft the proposed amendment that will be voted on. The particulars have changed multiple times leading many to be uninformed as to the final verbiage.
There are several highlights that are favorable. I don't think the initiative goes far enough but it has several good points and is a step forward.
First and foremost, it does not get rid of the 3% cap or Save Our Homes. For the first time, non-homesteaded and commercial property will receive some protection in the form of a maximum 10% increase per year. Finally, the issue of portability was addressed and the relief is meaningful. I cannot tell you that the relief is what we wanted, but again, it is a step in the right direction.
The First Amendment Foundationin Tallahassee has been invited by the CCFC to put on a seminar on our First Amendment rights and the Florida Statutes as they relate to Sunshine laws and the Open Records Act. I attended one of their seminars last month in Wakulla and was greatly impressed with the power of ordinary citizens in Florida. Unless you know the ins and outs of the law though, you are powerless to apply them. We plan to invite government officials from Franklin as well as the general public. The seminar is planned for Thursday March 13th at the Eastpoint firehouse at 6:00 p.m. We will advertise the meeting ahead of time. This is another way that your Association can reach out to the general population to inform them of their rights and to help Franklin County officials understand their responsibilities.
ISSUES AND CONCERNS
The following issues and concerns have been identified by your Board as important to the success of our mission and are being prioritized for action this year:
- Continue to investigate County spending to uncover waste and publicize the findings.
- Come to a conclusion supported by a legal opinion on a specific issue that gives the public leverage in demanding a lower millage rate and commensurate lower spending by the County.
- Raise a minimum of $50,000 in calendar year 2008 to support our efforts.
- Pursue the issue of county-wide voting and establish once and for all the legality of the current County position.
- Investigate, document and publish the results of officials who misuse their public office.
This is a pretty full plate as you might have gathered. Some of the above is very much underway. We ask for your feedback and continued support as we pursue the issues of leadership, fair assessments, efficiency of government and transparency here in Franklin County. The Concerned Citizens of Franklin County is ideally positioned and structured to continue to make a real difference. As I constantly say, "The money spent by Franklin County is your money. The tyranny of the majority does not make it right to take from one group to give to another, no matter how noble sounding they may make it seem. As long as the majority of ad valorem taxes are collected from people disenfranchised to vote, the temptation to take will be overpowering." This is why we all need the citizen-run, citizen-led CCFC to stand up and say "No" to that which is unsupportable.
CCFC MEMBERS IN ATLANTA
Thank you for your support.
Allan J. Feifer, President
Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc.