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Opinion
Ormond Beach Observer Wednesday, Sep. 1, 2021 2 weeks ago

Why I won't vote for a 4.7% tax increase

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Simple answer: The city has more than enough reserves and doesn't need the extra money.
by: Guest Writer

by: Dwight Selby

Ormond Beach city commissioner

The Ormond Beach City Commission is poised to raise your taxes 4.7%, but they will do it without my support, and I’d like to tell you why.

I will oppose this tax increase for one very simple reason: The city doesn’t need the money. The tax increase will generate about $800,000 in additional revenue. 

The city has $8.8 million in reserves (or 25% of the Operating Budget). The city has a policy of maintaining reserves at 15% (or $5.4 million). That means the city has excess reserves of $3.4 million. 

Don’t get me wrong: Being fiscally careful is a good thing. But taking money out of your pockets to put it in the city’s savings account is unacceptable. It’s your money, and it should stay in your bank account until the city absolutely needs it.

Although I don’t believe we should raise taxes at all, I recommended a compromise of half the proposed increase (or 2.35%), which would have covered the increase in the cost of living. Unfortunately, that compromise received no support from any of the other four City Commission members.

In case you’ve heard that most of the tax increase will be used to finance the new $625,000 Public Safety Fund, let me explain why that’s not completely accurate. Most of what that fund consists of is being used to pay for things previously found in other accounts like $200,000 for new police vehicles (formerly in the Vehicle Replacement Fund) and $230,000 in fire engines (the $90,000 loan payment on one older fire engine and the $140,000 per year payment for two new engines). So the tax increase isn’t paying for enhanced public safety spending because nearly 70% of that fund (or $430,000) was already in the budget. 

Nobody supports the brave men and women of the Ormond Beach Police Department more than I do. In addition to serving on the City Commission, I am president of the Ormond Beach Police Foundation, which has raised over $140,000 of private donations in support of training, technology, equipment and benevolence for our brave men and women in blue. 

So here’s the bottom line. The proposed General Fund (a.k.a. Operating Fund) for the city is $35 million. The proposed tax increase is $800,000. The city has $3.4 million in excess reserves. Cut the taxpayers some slack. Do not raise taxes. Use a quarter of the the excess reserves to fully fund the budget, and the city will still have $2.6 million in excess reserves. 

Dwight Selby was elected commissioner for Zone 1 in November 2016 and re-elected in 2018 and 2020. He is CEO of Selby Realty Inc.

 

Send letters to Associate Editor Jarleene Almenas at [email protected].

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