I’ve been reading up some more on the Emergency Services Surtax. It turns out that there was a change made to the law in July 2015. From the 2015 Local Government Financial Information Handbook, page 195.
Chapter 2015-169, L.O.F., (CS/CS/HB 209) removes the requirement for the county government to enter into an interlocal agreement as a prerequisite for holding a referendum on the surtax. If the surtax is approved by referendum, the proceeds will be distributed to all local government entities providing emergency fire rescue services in the county. The legislation provides that surtax proceeds will be distributed to all participating entities providing emergency fire rescue services in the county based on each entity’s pro rata share of spending on such services in the county over the five preceding fiscal years.
I am very suspicious of this Emergency Services Surtax (ESS) proposal for a number of reasons.
- It is detrimental to the major sales-tax generating areas of the Keys, especially Key West and Key Largo.
- It rewards excessive spending by Monroe County and penalizes the responsible spending of the other entities.
- The county is arguing for this tax with unsupported assertions and bogus claims.
The removal of an interlocal agreement among the entities as a prerequisite is definitely cause for concern. The fact that the county didn’t make this proposal until after that prerequisite was removed is significant. It means that the county knew they would never get the other entities to bite. They want to make an end run around them and go directly to the voters.
Hopefully the voters are too smart to fall for it. I’ll certainly do my best to punch through the spin.