Commissioners need to get fiscal house in order
The election is over, and the new incoming Martin County commissioners have their work cut out for them.
Simply getting up to speed with the ongoing litigation is a job in its own right. Among the cases: Lake Point, All Aboard Florida, Midbrook, King Ranch, Zeus Park and Pitchford Landing.
Understanding the budgetary process and priorities is paramount. The Martin County Tuxpayer Association believes the county must begin to manage its escalating expenditures.
Our recent study shows the county population has grown approximately 18 percent over the past 15 years while government expenditures have increased approximately 60 percent for the same period.
There are many reasons for this, but the county has approximately a $250 million capital shortfall and should look at ways to generate revenue ( other than ad valorem increases).
Recently, there has been an effort to reduce this shortfall through the Florida Power & Light Franchise Fee, allocating money away from the community redevelopment areas and economic development fund, as well as taking money from the health care reserve fund.
Although these are short-term sources ofrevenue, the Martin County Taxpayers Association believes these reallocations are not healthy in the long run and the county should develop strategies that manage this shortfall without using short-term strategies.
Taking money away from the CRAs and economic development fund is counterproductive. At the end of the day,these redevelopment areas will produce more tax revenue for the county.
If the county demonstrates some discipline in its spending, there is a possibility that a sales tax could be successfully passed to tackle the capital shortfall. However, the taxpayers want a guarantee that the money would be used for capital expenditures and they also want to see conservative fiscal policies developed at the board level.
Martin County has been a leader in developing a comprehensive plan that allows the county to have local control over its development and economic future. The plan provides a great deal of specificity relative to how, and in what manner, the taxpayers of Martin County would like to see their community grow.
However, there is no long-term plan that converts this comprehensive growth plan into specific financial needs and costs. In other words, what are the most effective methods for funding our county's future vision?
This plan should look out over a minimum of 25 years and suggest methodologies to create a more diversified tax base. The Martin County Taxpayers Association has repeatedly stated that the county needs a more diversified tax base, and we believe such a study would substantiate this.
Martin County is a great place to live and raise a family. However, it is becoming a community where only the wealthy can afford to live. Hopefully, our leaders will study ways to keep our expenses down while continuing to protect our quality of life.
Richard Geisinger is communications chair for the Martin County Taxpayers Association.
Treasure Coast Newspapers Saturday, October 1, 2016 9