The Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFR) have a wealth of information on the current Pensacola government.
Pensacola has lost population over the past ten years. Pensacola had 60,994 people in 1999. By 2008, the city population had shrunk to 56,373—a 7.5 percent loss. Meanwhile, property tax collections grew 73 percent from $8,629,998 in 1999 to $14,963,001 in 2008.
We didn’t see any reduction in the tax rates until 2007. By 2008, the property values had nearly doubled since the 1999 fiscal year.
The cost of government, less capital outlay, grew $20.4 million or 38 percent over the same time period–from $53.1 million in 1999 to $73.5 million in 2008.
The cost of city government per person was $870 in 1999. By 2008 it was $1,303— 50 percent jump.
Pension costs have skyrocketed as the city staff tries to cover its pensions. From 1998 to 2007, the unfunded pensions jumped from 80 percent from $43.1 million to $77.5 million. The unfunded pension liability is greater than the city budget.
The contributions to pension funds in 2008 was $13 million, only $2 million less than the property tax collections.
So while Charlie Fairchild tells us that everything is fine under the current weak mayor-weak council system, the numbers tell us something very different. Population has fallen. Taxes have increased. City budget has increased. Pension costs have increased. And as the staff retires or gets better jobs in other places, the voters are left dealing with the mess.