Florida Tax Watch CEO/President Dominic M. Calabro reports that Escambia County’s operating millage rate is higher than the state average and three comparable counties: Leon, Marion, Manatee. From 1999 to 2006, the rate stayed the same for the county (8.75) while taxable property values doubled.
The other counties has similar property value increases, but they reduced their millage rates. Marion went from 6.15 in 1999 to 4.47 for 2006. When the state legislature mandated a decrease in 2007, Marion went to 2.73 -more than was required.
In contrast, Escambia County stayed at 8.75 from 1999 to 2006. Last year, they dropped to 8.017.
The final report will be in March. It will tells us where the money went. Calabro said a great deal went to Public Safety and Administration. There has been a lot of patronage. Some was for unfunded state mandates.
Funds didn’t go to pay down long-term debt or needed infrastructure.
Another telling statistic is the relatively flat population growth in Escambia County – 2.7% from 1999 to 2007. State population growth: 25.7%; Leon: 14.7%; Manatee: 21.8%; Marion: 26.3%.
When it comes to spending on culture and recreation services, Escambia County lags far behind.
Escambia: $32 per capita; State: $83; Leon: $48; Manatee: $98; Marion: $35.