Win, Lose or Draw?
Keeping astride of property taxes is a lot like keeping-up with his two-year-old son, Felipe. Ricky Quintana said he does not know where they are going or when they are going to stop. Quintana's property taxes have increased over 400 percent over the last seven years, but he is unsure whether lower taxes are worth losing local services.
"It's a quandary for me because we do take advantage of some of the services," Quintana explained. "Some of the services we don't."
Most local services serve a valuable purpose, even if their impact is not felt by everyone.
"Many people will be a little startled to realize the cuts are about people's jobs," Gainesville City Commissioner Jeanna Mastrodiscasa said. "We're talking about things such as party patrol being cut, cutting support for our office on homelessness, cutting our school resource officers in the schools."
Anything paid for through the general fund would be in danger if state lawmakers limit property taxes. A 10 percent cut would cost an estimated $7 million and approximately 120 city jobs in Gainesville, but depending on the results of the state special session, which begins June 12, the cut could be as high as 25 percent.
"We have done all we can at the local government level, and I think what I'm hearing when I talk to the average citizen on the street is that they don't realize what's actually happening," Mastrodiscasa said.
The Gainesville City Commission also agreed state legislators might not realize the effects the property tax limits could have on municipalities; they voted to send a letter to Tallahassee during Monday night's commission meeting.
Until the special session, local lawmakers can only speculate what state legislators will decide and how those decisions will affect the counties and cities. Others like Jason Drenning however would welcome the tax break and feel the money can be put to better use in their own pockets.
"I feel as an individual citizen that I can make better decisions than the local or state government with money that's actually mine."
By Ted Latiak, WCJB TV20 News
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