Most St. Petersburg leaders want to raise taxes to plug a fictitious $10 million hole in their budget and are moving forward with a “fire fee” on properties to do so. Many of those who would pay are lower income people and tax-exempt organizations (so called “not for profits”) that have less cash to spare. The politicians are working overtime to figure out how to raise taxes without having to make any serious cuts to their $482 million overall budget. In fact ,their latest plan reveals their true feelings when it comes to property in St. Petersburg: No one really OWNS their property, they just rent it from the city!
Mayor Foster will likely be joined by a majority of City Council members who have already voted to impose fire fees in their latest tax scheme. They will talk of a “hardship exemption” for lower income people, but in the end they will still demand that the fee be paid on the property. They are proposing placing a “Lien” on the property. In other words, they will use their government confiscatory powers (enforced in the end with a gun) to make sure that if an exempted property ever sells to another owner later, THEY would have to pay that fee. Even if that sale was several years later, the many years worth of fees must be paid. This is the same thing as the government claiming they really own the property, and people are just renting it from the government until it sells and then the new renter must pay the tax.
The City continues to refuse to address the bloated health insurance benefits and pension plans of government workers. The city has had enormous tax revenue “surpluses” since 2001 until. Tax collections are still higher than they were in 2000 when escalating property value wave was ridden by a spend-thrift city government including Bill Foster who sat on the Council and spent happily the entire decade. Rather than make responsible changes in spending, the city threatens to let the grass reach knee high, close libraries and threaten fire protection if it doesn’t get another tax hike.
Citizens who are sick of this spendthrift and irresponsible government should go to the City Council meetings on September 13 and September 27 to let them know: cut spending!