Since 2006, Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Independents and a long line of other Palm Beach County property owners have been telling county commissioners the need to dramatically reduce spending. Apparently it continues to fall on deaf ears by many on the commission and it is clear some on the dias need to be replaced for not representing their constituents. Though commissioners claim they have tried their best to find spending cuts, they just can’t find them. This in the face of serious proposals but forth by the Taxpayer Action Board and Florida Tax Watch. Commissioners are even raiding the local gas tax which is to be used for roads and putting it into the general fund so they don’t have to cut cultural and other programs.
Last night was the last time the public could voice their opinion on the 2012 fiscal year budget for Palm Beach County and as anyone could have predicted, the millage rate went up. Facing a near-empty room of residents, commissioners voted 4-3 to raise property taxes a relative small amount of 1%, however the taxes on my real estate in the county will rise over 8%. Normally the second public hearing on the budget hosts a standing room only crowd, however it is apparent most residents have given up the fight and have realized the commissioners will just do whatever they want – no matter what sensical solutions are put before them. Commissioner Jesse Santamaria proved he is no longer a friend of the Tea Party crowd. The three commissioners who voted against the tax increase were Abrams, Marcus and Burdick.
The bulk of last night’s crowd encourgaed the commissioners to approve a 4.75 millage rate which would have kept the rate flat, however they would hear none of it. Many programs which are not the business of government will continue to thrive in Palm Beach County and those coming before the commission throughout the year asking for a handout will continue to get whatever they ask because the commission lacks a backbone to say “no”. Need an extra $100,000 or $200,000 for your cause, just step right up and the commission will cut you a check with little or no accountability.
What was most telling of last night’s meeting was the response of many of the commissioners to those who spoke. If you were against a tax increase and offered reasonable spending reduction solutions, you were handled matter of factly, without positive feedback. In some instances, one would be lectured or frowned upon. However if you spoke from an organization getting county (taxpayer) money, then you were congratulated and given accolades.
It is clear many on the commission need to be replaced and over the coming years, one can only hope to see things move in a direction of responsible, smaller county government. There are several local organizations in the county that can make this happen and it is expected small government candidates will soon be elected to the commission.