BY BUDDY NEVINS
Hold on to your wallets. Broward’s tax-happy Legislative Delegation is back in Tallahassee.
This year their goals include two ideas that sound noble, but are recipes for expensive entitlements stretching into the future.
They would set up special taxing districts to (1) put cops in schools (SB 514) and (2) pay for senior services (SB 976).
These are motherhood and apple pie issues wrapped in the American flag.
How could you be against either?
Nobody is against keeping kids safe or helping seniors.
We all should be against creating new multi-million dollar bureaucracies with taxing powers run by unelected politicians.
Here are just some of what makes these proposals bad news:
- This is a cynical shell game. The new agencies are tasks that local government can already provide. Cowardly city and county commissioners support the new services if somebody else pays. With their eyes on the next election, they don’t want to raise taxes to pay for them. So they pass the buck to a new special district that is off their books.
- These special districts will be run by appointed politicians. They are either appointed by local commissions or appointed by Tallahassee. Appointed agencies are notoriously unresponsive because there is no consequences at the ballot box for anything they do.
- The special districts — which can tax up to ½ mill (50 cents per $1,000 of property value) — will go on forever. These are new taxing authorities which will take a life of their own. We should be streamlining government, not building more elaborate bureaucracies.
- The districts have the power to buy or lease real estate. I can see the lobbyists lining up now.
- The districts have unlimited power to hire personnel. Talk about a new font of patronage, over-inflated salaries and benefits.
- The mission statements of these two districts are vague and so open-ended they should be scary to any taxpayer.
The special district for seniors is empowered to “provide and maintain in the county the preventive, developmental, treatment, rehabilitative, and other services which the council determines are needed for the general welfare of seniors.” That could include everything from mental health services to building shuffle board courts, all of it employing dozens on your dime.
The special district for school safety can “Provide and maintain in the county the services which the council determines are needed for the safety of the schools and students.”
Basically, the new districts can do anything they want.
Both districts would be created only after approval by voters in a referendum. We shouldn’t even waste the time for a referendum on such bogus proposals.
Even the Broward School Board, not a wellspring of wisdom, doesn’t want the school safety special district. They asked State Sen. Eleanor Sobel to drop the proposal and she has refused.
State Sen. Eleanor Sobel: Wants To Pick Our Wallet With New Taxes
Special districts are already widely abused. Broward has 17 water management districts. That is 17 separate administrations with 17 sets of employees, many doing the same jobs. They are jobs that could be done better and cheaper by the county government.
State Sen. Jeremy Ring, D-Coral Springs, has made noise about reigning in the power of the county’s water districts. “There really is no accountability,” Ring said.
Ring is right.
So why would we create two more districts to do a job that would be done cheaper and better by existing governments?
Are you listening, Jeremy?
The bills creating both these districts should get lost in a committee, never to see the light of day.
Maybe this is a job for state Rep. George Moriatis of Fort Lauderdale, the only Republican from Broward in Tallahassee. After all, he does describe himself as a self-described fiscal conservative.
Well, let’s see just how conservative Moriatis really is.
Call your GOP friends, George. Kill these bad bills.