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Concerned Citizens of
Franklin County, Inc.
PO Box 990
Eastpoint, Florida32328
(850) 653-5571

July, 2009

on Monday, 07 September 2015. Posted in News from the President

2009 Budget Workshops

2009 Budget Workshops
Next Thursday July 23rd at 9:00 a.m. the Franklin County Board of Commissioners will hear from the various Constitutional Officers and Department heads, requests for funding in the 2009/2010 budget cycle. There is another group that should be prominently represented at this workshop, the citizens of Franklin County. How many of us will come forward and take our time to watch the County make what amounts to sausage?

Some people suffer from a form of battle fatigue on these issues. They are not sure what to believe and think that someone else will step up to the plate in their stead. And, that's exactly what some hope will happen this year as well. Friends, this is a historic budget year. Your taxes will not likely be going down, but they definitely could be going up, for some, way up. Here are the facts:

  • Doris Pendleton, our Property Appraiser has recently stated that the overall drop in the County Tax Digest will amount to about 20%. Some people think that means their taxes will drop 20% and that would be true if the reductions were spread out evenly amongst all properties (which they are not) and if the millage rate was left alone, which will not likely be.
  • At the current millage rate and with the projected Preliminary Certified Tax Digest, the county faces a $2 million drop in receipts. The County's expenses are heavily tilted towards personnel and there is no possibility of absorbing this decrease through non-personnel reductions. In fact, the County is also looking at a drop in state aid as well.
  • County reserves have been used to plug budget shortfalls over the last three years. Taking reserves to cover current expenses must stop.
  • The new proposed budgets which will be presented to the Commissioners next week by Department Heads and Constitutional Officers do not show any substantial budget cutting. In fact, some have proposed increases.
  • There is an issue of fairness that will be aired at next week's Budget Workshop. The CCFC has discovered that several Constitutional Officers have secretly been giving raises/bonuses to select employees on top of the hotly contested across the board increases given last year.

Government must be in the Sunshine both from a legal and ethical standard. Some people within county government are trying to muzzle the process this year because there is a genuine crisis afoot. At this time, the CCFC does not know whether we will be allowed to speak at the Budget Workshop. This should be a great concern to all of us. We are at a critical time in our experiment known as Democracy. The Congressional Budget Office just reported that 47% of Americans will pay no income taxes this year. That's a combination of a poor economy and something much more insidious; a conscious transfer of the responsibility for paying for government services from all of us, to some of us. That some of us in Franklin County is all too often “the Outsider” or those not blessed with being connected. A favorable property assessment by deign of birth, does not make it right. Family ties that get you a plumb County job not advertised to others is wrong. Your excellent political connections should not entitle you to winning no bid contracts. But, all of this can and does happen regularly here in Franklin County. Equitable treatment of all the citizens of Franklin County is not only a request; it is the law.

Make no mistake about it; this year there is going to be a fight on the budget and the resulting millage rate. Do not be lulled into believing that the millage rate in Franklin County is low and therefore should rise. The only thing that is important is the budget. Franklin County is already a pariah amongst the investment community. Just look at the extraordinarily high number of Tax Certificates sold this year and the lack of development, sales of existing properties and diminished retail sales. All these signs point to the effects of trying to draw too much water from the well. Property taxes are just the tip of the iceberg. But, make no mistake about it, all of us suffer from a bad business climate made worse by bad decision making by our leaders.

Please voice your concern to your elected representatives both at the BOCC and with the School Board. This is a year of decision. The years of plenty are definitely gone. We need as many of you as is possible to turn out, even if it's for only an hour. Commissioners definitely count noses. When they see empty seats and little or no participation by the citizens some Commissioners feel empowered to reach into your pocket and take your money, your savings and even your ability to live here. I hope everyone sees this as the important issue that it is and turns out next Thursday to voice their concern for a County government that disproportionately spends your money vs. other counties. I have included achartof what some other counties spend on a department by department basis as proof. And, don't forget to bring a friend.

I have put contact information for your commissioners below. If you can't make it to the hearings, this is an excellent alternative way for them to hear your opinions and concerns. And, I hope you will email me with your questions/priorities. We want to hear from you.

COMMISSIONER CONTACTS:

  • Commissioner Cheryl Sanders (850) 697-2534
  • Chairman Smokey Parrish (850) 653-8790
  • Commissioner Pinki Jackel (850) 670-6700
  • Commissioner Noah Lockley (850)653-4452
  • Commissioner Bevin Putnal (850) 697-3719

Thank you,

Allan J. Feifer, President
Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc.

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