The Budget That Was Not

on Monday, 04 October 2021.

The Budget Scrutiny That Wasn’t

Dear Readers:

Last Tuesday, the 28 th of September, in five minutes and with nary a comment, Franklin County passed the largest budget in its history at $77 million for this tiny vestige of Old Florida. That is approximately $7,300 for each non-incarcerated resident. Per Citizen— not taxpayer! For almost 20 years, Concerned Citizens of Franklin County have quietly and persistently attempted to save YOU, the taxpayers, from wasteful spending, lack of transparency, and policies and practices that are anti-constituent which continue year after year by our county leadership.

The newest Property Appraiser Tax Role shows 18,858 individual property Parcels in the county. Of these, roughly 8,000 are individual homes, condos, and/or apartments. Of those 8,000, approximately 3,100 are homesteaded. Many county residents pay little or nothing in taxes due to various exemptions they have been granted. This makes it easy for commissioners to vote for higher taxes on everybody else. It’s legal but not ultimately fair. Aren’t Commissioners supposed to keep things fair? We, at the CCFC, believe they are not.

When county commissioners passed this year's budget, they spent about $1 million more than last year. They also handed out significant raises, some, way overdue while others were unconscionable increases, all while patting themselves on the back at how fiscally astute they were by not raising the millage rate. This is a major sleight of hand. Deceit is created by publicly highlighting a homesteaded property valued at $150,000 that will pay slightly less in county taxes than last year. That is a minority situation of about 3,100 homes; allow me to explain:

The majority of properties in Franklin County are not homesteaded and consequently don’t receive the protections of Save our Home, the Florida Constitutional Amendment that slows down the growth of property taxes for homesteaded individuals but does not eliminate it. MOST non-residents, some residents, and all commercial properties have no such protection.

So, a more correct statement should have been that For the Sixth Straight Year, county taxes will be rising an average of 6% for the majority of property owners in the county. And, that while The Save our Homes Homestead Cap will slow down the increase for those affected, everyone’s will eventually go up to meet the actual taxes assessed, only delayed, on unsuspecting property owners who are encouraged to believe falsely that they won again on their tax bills.

The Concerned Citizens of Franklin County presented at least 22 comments and suggestions to Commissioners this year that, if seriously studied and implemented, would have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars this coming budget year. What’s clear to us is that Commissioners want little controversy and/or do little or no actual work to understand the large budgets they approve. Few, if any, commissioners can answer detailed questions concerning the budgets they annually assess on taxpayers. The budgets presented by Constitutional Officers and Department Heads are rarely questioned or seriously challenged. An additional one million dollars is being assessed this year. Commissioners refuse to even consider the financially responsible idea of Zero-Based Budgeting.

Nothing will change in Franklin County until and unless the citizens demand it. We have a country today that is so much in turmoil that trivial things like your taxes don’t seem to rise to the level of concerned study or action. On behalf of myself and the CCFC, I am truly sorry.

The CCFC published our comments on its website at:

This budget letter was made available to county staff and commissioners earlier this
summer in time for the 2021-2022 budget Cycle. It is too late to do anything more this
year. But when next year's budget cycle begins starting in October of this year, there
should be an entirely new approach to next year’s budgeting cycle.

Thank you for reading and supporting us.

Thank you.

Allan J. Feifer
Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc.
P.O. Box 990
Eastpoint, Florida 32328
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
(850) 653-5571

“The Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc. serves as a citizens’ advocate to ensure that our Franklin County governments are more open, affordable, efficient, and responsive to our citizens. The organization seeks to hold public officials accountable for their actions in the administration of their duties and their fiduciary responsibilities to the taxpayers.”

Commissioner Contacts:
Commissioner Bert Boldt <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.> 519-4966
Commissioner Smokey Parrish<This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>653-8790
Commissioner Ricky Jones <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>653-8861
Chairman Noah Lockley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>653-4452
Commissioner Jessica Ward < This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.> 653-9783

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