Letter to the Editor: ‘Irresponsible and Out-of-Touch’ to Increase Millage Rates or Fire Fees

 

By Casey Ahlbum

As a multi-year resident of Coral Springs, I write today to express my disappointment with the budget that is being proposed by city staff. Specifically, I write to express my opposition to the proposed increases in the millage rate and fire fees.

City staff believes that there is a need to increase revenues because they are facing a potential budget shortfall. However, it is a fact that the city has realized a sizable increase in revenue due to the significant increases in property values over the years. 

While an argument is often made that the “Save our Homes” law caps the increase in revenue at 3%, Coral Springs still realizes millions of dollars in additional tax revenue each year, even at this rate. 

Our city also realizes the benefit of properties being reassessed after a sale, something that is frequently occurring in this red-hot real estate market. 

Meantime, most homeowners are lucky to receive anything close to a 3% annual salary increase, if an increase at all, and that’s before considering the impact of inflation on an average household budget.

Based on these facts, I believe it is irresponsible and out-of-touch for staff members to even consider asking for an increase in millage rates or fire fees. Instead, staff should manage accordingly, just like households and private businesses do, and live within their means. 

I urge the commission to reject the proposed increase and force staff to go back to the drawing board to create a fiscally responsible budget. Many Coral Springs taxpayers, homeowners, and voters are still struggling financially due to the lingering effects of the Covid lockdowns, and it is unrealistic and insensitive to ask your fellow neighbors to shoulder an increase in our tax rates.

According to our city’s own financial report for the fiscal year ending on September 30, 2020, total revenues increased from $208 million in 2019 to $219 million in 2020. Property tax revenue alone increased from $60 million in 2019 to $62 million in 2020, and it is apparent that revenues have increased again this year. 

Unlike private businesses who have to compete in the marketplace to earn revenue, our city, like all governments, has the power of taxation, which allows it to simply collect revenue from its residents. 

I believe all of us who live in Coral Springs understand that there is a price to pay for the good police, fire, parks, public works, and city government that we enjoy and that we knowingly pay that price through our already high property taxes and associated fees.

I believe it is irresponsible for our unelected city leaders to essentially “double-dip” by imposing millage rate and fee increases when our city is already realizing a substantial increase in revenue from the annual increase in property taxes alone. 

As someone who consistently votes in the city elections, especially the lower turn-out special elections, I will be watching closely to see how each of you votes on this matter. 

I truly appreciate each of you taking the time to read my email and to consider my feedback. I’m hopeful that each of you will do what I believe to be the right thing and vote “no” on any proposed tax or fee increases.

Casey Ahlbum has been a resident of Coral Springs off and on since 1996. After moving to Margate in 2004, he moved back to Coral Springs in 2016. From 2011 to 2016 he was a member of the Board of Adjustment in Margate, serving as Chairman from 2013 to 2016. He has worked in the corporate field for over 20 years, serving in various mid-senior to senior-level management roles. 

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