Cape Council passes largest tax increase since 2011
To the editor:
On Sept. 29, 2021, the city council approved a millage rate of 6.250. This rate is 4% higher than the rolled back rate of 5.9962 (the equivalent rate of what the tax rate should be to current property owners as a comparison of last year’s taxes when considering the current property valuations). This rate increase brings in $13 million dollars from property taxes that is allowing the city to increase its general fund for operations to a total of $43 million.
In the Breeze article from Oct. 1, 2021 — Council approves budget — The mayor is quoted as stating that public safety was the big winner this budget cycle, further quoting increases to police and fire fighters. The additional police and firefighters accounted for less than $4 million of the $13 million in tax increase. The mayor was also quoted as stating that the police are 45 people short to need. Please note that this budget adds 26 people to Parks and Recreation. If we need more police, I am confident the citizens of our city would rather be safer from violent crime by having more police officers than having recreation specialist and park rangers.
Our permanent residents should be thanking our State Legislators for the Homestead protections that are under law that minimized this tax increase to homesteaded properties. Property owners received their TRIM notices last month to make sure property owners were told the truth about what the city was planning to do with tax increases.
Both Lee County and Fort Myers chose to adopt their rolled back rates because it produced enough money to meet their planned budget.
Cape Coral took advantage of the new property valuations and added an additional $9 million in revenue from property taxes versus what was forecast last year as needed for 2022.
This large tax increase will ultimately hurt low-income citizens the most due to increased cost of consumer goods and services and especially with expected rent increases. Rental properties are not protected by the Homestead laws and these property owners will see a 10% or more increase in their tax dollars. Landlords will simply pass this on to their renters when their lease renews.
This large tax increase has a long-term effect on all of us as this becomes the new base. The approved budget calls for a 26% increase in revenue from property tax over the next three years. Homesteaded properties will soon start to feel the effects of what was approved by the council. If you do not believe this will cost all property owners more in the long run, then you probably believe the federal government $3.5 trillion aid package will not cost taxpayers anything either.
Our previous mayor is on record with his view of the importance to give money back to the residents as a priority versus more government projects. It was clear by him in 2019 that more money in residents’ pockets was better than additional spending by a government entity. You only have to look at the Parks $60 million GO bond project as an example; it is currently projected to cost $75 million and three years later we still don’t have any of the seven new parks that were promised.