Sunday, November 2, 2014

Ad Valorem Tax Exemptions Bad For Retirees, Schools, Traffic Congestion

BREVARD COUNTY, Florida -- Brevard County voters should vote "NO" on the "Economic Development Ad Valorem Tax Exemptions" because these economic development projects have a poor success rate and do not take into consideration how these projects would affect Brevard County Public Schools, traffic congestion, and the health of the Indian River Lagoon.

Last year, Brevard Times obtained the State data regarding incentives given to companies in Brevard County.  That data showed that there were only 702 jobs confirmed by the State of Florida for incentive projects from FY 2004-2005 through 2010-2011. Of those 702 jobs created in a 7-year period, all but 10 came from well-established companies.  In fact, the bulk of those jobs (498 or 71%) came from just two well-capitalized companies: Lockheed Martin and AAR Airlift Group.

Jobs For Brevard Residents or "People With Jobs From Outside Brevard"?

While the State data does shed some light on actual jobs created, it still does not break down the number of jobs open to Floridians versus jobs already filled.  As reported by Brevard Times in Tax Money For Confusing Florida Jobs Numbers Explained, the actual number of high-paying (over $50k), direct, open job positions available in the near future to existing Brevard County resident is significantly lower from the "projected jobs" number used by the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast in the FLORIDA TODAY headlines.   A more accurate term, more often than not, is that "people with jobs" are coming to Brevard because most of the confirmed, high-paying jobs are already filled by internal, large-company transfers. 

Bad For Traffic Congestion In Melbourne and Palm Bay

The other standout data point is where the confirmed jobs are located in Brevard.  The majority of those confirmed jobs (443 or 63%) were in the Palm Bay-Melbourne area where traffic congestion is a major problem.  Because the Ad Valorem Tax Exemption brings "people with jobs" from outside of Brevard County into Brevard, these additional commuters add to the traffic congestion.  The extra driving time that existing Brevard County commuters have to endure increases their gasoline and auto repair costs. 

Bad For The Indian River Lagoon

The additional vehicles on the road and the extra time vehicles run idle in traffic congestion allows more oil and other fluids to leak onto roads.  These fluids are then washed away by rain that ultimately runoff into the Indian River Lagoon.  

These extra "people with jobs" that the Ad Valorem Tax Exemption projects bring into Brevard County also increases the millions of gallons of sewage spilled into the Indian River Lagoon.

Bad For Brevard County Public Schools 

The majority of the confirmed jobs created are on mainland south Brevard County where schools are near capacity.  It would only take one large project to bring hundreds of new families to south Brevard that would cause the School Board to re-draw school boundaries and force existing Brevard County school children to change schools. 

None of the jobs were in the Titusville or North Brevard area.  Only 53 jobs went to the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, leaving the rest of Brevard's barrier island communities with no confirmed jobs created.  North Brevard and the barrier islands have been the hardest hit by recent and proposed school closings.  The Ad Valorem Tax Exemption has done nothing to help keep schools open in those communities.

Bad For Retirees

The Ad Valorem Tax Exemption forces retirees to pay more taxes for something they receive no benefit in return.  This is because the Ad Valorem Tax Exemption requires all Brevard County taxpayers to pay more taxes to make up for the taxes that the companies do not pay. 

The demographics for Brevard County continue to shift to an older community.  Paying less taxes is more important to these older voters than bringing "people with jobs" to Brevard.

"If you look at the data for Brevard County for example, only like one-third of people here actually have full-time jobs.  Other people are retired, have kids, they're disabled, they're out of work. You know, so jobs don't have the front and center importance to everyone the way Rick Scott needs them to, politically," said FLORIDA TODAY Opinion Editor Matt Reed during the October 22, 2014 Bill Mick Live radio show.

This is how the language appears on the 2014 Brevard County General Election Ballot:


Economic Development Ad Valorem Tax Exemptions for New Businesses and Expansions of Existing Businesses

Shall the Board of County Commissioners of Brevard County, Florida continue to be authorized to grant, pursuant to s. 3, Art. VII of the State Constitution, property tax exemptions to new businesses and expansions of existing businesses that are expected to create new, full-time jobs in the county?

YES - For Authority to Grant Exemptions
NO - Against Authority to Grant Exemptions


Economic Development Ad Valorem Tax Exemption

Shall the City Council of the City of Cocoa Beach be authorized to grant, pursuant to Section 3 (c), Article VII of the State Constitution, property tax exemptions to new businesses and expansions of existing businesses?