League of Cities opposed to cuts

Published: Wednesday, January 23, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 23, 2008 at 12:14 a.m.

Representing the Alachua County League of Cities, Waldo Mayor Louis Davis joined county officials Tuesday at a news conference to oppose the Jan. 29 tax cut amendment, saying the amendment will force local government to cut services without providing much tax relief.

The news conference at the Downtown Community Plaza was organized by County Commission Chairman Rodney Long. Elected representatives from all the county municipalities were invited, and Davis was the only one to attend.

"There would have to be cuts, and for a small city, that would hurt," Davis said. "We're negotiating our contract for fire service with the county, and that's all up in the air now."

Davis said the League of Cities is officially opposed to the referendum.

The measure would increase the homestead exemption, allow existing homeowners to bring some of their Save Our Homes benefits to a new home, and create exemptions for businesses' tangible property and nonhomesteaded property.

Supporters believe it will provide taxpayers with some relief and control spending by local government. Opponents believe it will lead to cuts in services and erode the role of local government.

Alachua County commissioners voted last week to officially oppose the measure and to spend about $21,500 on a mail-out on the issue.

"We do not know what the long-term impact of this is," Long said. "It does not provide true tax relief."

Alachua County would lose about $11 million in revenue if the amendment passes.

Most of the people listening to Long speak at a podium were homeless residents killing time at the plaza.

However, resident George Pryor said he showed up to learn the county's position on the amendment.

"I'd be against it. I'm renting, so I wouldn't get any benefit from it," Pryor said. "Low-income people aren't going to get anything out of it."

Gainesville City Manager Russ Blackburn came to the plaza but did not join the elected officials on the stage. Blackburn later said the city has aired information on the issue but has not taken a stand.

Blackburn added the city could lose about $3.1 million if it passes. That represents about 14 percent of the city's property tax revenue.

Cindy Swirko can be reached at 352-374-5024 or swirkoc@ gvillesun.com.

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