Something is wrong, very wrong here. We incorporated Palmetto Bay on the promise that a Palmetto Bay municipality could do more with the amount of taxes paid to Unincorporated Area (UMSA) without raising taxes, yet in an ironic twist, it is the County, as administrator of UMSA, that is showing tax restraint. Now, the current Palmetto Bay elected officials are set to raise taxes yet again - in consecutive years no less.
There are many ways to collect taxes. Previously, we have looked at the property taxes – that which show on your tax bill (TRIM notice). Those taxes are obvious - listed on a specific tax bill mailed to the taxpayer. But this post is to look at the sneaky side of taxes - those you may not know you are paying such as the portion collected by FPL on your electric bill and paid over to the Palmetto Bay government – what I have talked about previously as the FPL Franchise Fee (CLICK HERE to view past relevant posts).
BRIEF HISTORY: The FPL Franchise Fee (tax) was part of Palmetto Bay taxes originally collected through unincorporated Miami-Dade County and was paid at the same rate by FPL customers located in both Palmetto Bay and Unincorporated Miami-Dade. This special Tax was approved by the voters in a 1992 referendum for a specified period and was set to expire in 2020. The FPL Tax did expire for UMSA residents in 2020, so we would no longer be paying this tax had Palmetto Bay remained unincorporated. Rather than keep pace with UMSA, the current Palmetto Bay mayor brought forward a 30 year extension of this FPL tax that was not put to the voters. Instead, it was approved by the Village Council by a mere 3-2 vote. And, compounding the bad news, the FPL Tax actually set to increase from the current 3.5% to a full 6%.
This money is too easy for the current mayor and council to pass up. I have posted below a recent FPL bill from a valued reader for review. Note that the current FPL Franchise Tax collected on behalf of Palmetto Bay is $9.63 for the month (would be $115.56 annually) at 3.5%. It is important to remember that all of us here in Palmetto Bay would now being paying ZERO had we remained unincorporated. It is important to note that when the tax goes to 6%, all of us will pay more and by example, this tax payer’s bill will go from $9.63 to $16.10 ($193.20 annually) - another $77.64 in tax increase for those keeping track - but remember, those in Unincorporated Miami-Dade are now paying ZERO. Not the former 3.5% and certainly not the new, soon to be inflated 6%.
Members of the Village Council consider these tax increases “Pennies per day”. Hardly. The "pennies per day' has become a sick joke foist upon the taxpaying residents of Palmetto Bay.
BREAKING THE PROMISES MADE REGARDING INCORPORATING PALMETTO BAY: The current mayor and council are violating the original promise of incorporation by increasing the tax burden of living in Palmetto Bay versus unincorporated Miami-Dade. Look at the FPL bill for this Palmetto Bay taxpayer. Assuming the usage to be constant, the overall tax will go from $115.56 at 3.5% per year to a whopping $193.20 when it increases to the full 6%. This is for the FPL franchise fee alone. And note, FPL has sought a recent rate increase. Your Franchise Fee obligation increases as rates increase. Our local government has no control over any future rate hikes as well as a disincentive to oppose any hikes in your electric service rate as higher power rates equals more money for the local politicians to spend.
Will Palmetto Bay officials explain to me again how this is all “pennies per day”? The pennies are adding up and beginning to overwhelm the livability of Palmetto Bay when compared to unincorporated Miami-Dade.
Why were the voters excluded from the decision on this tax? FAIR QUESTION: Why were the residents of Palmetto Bay disenfranchised, deprived of their right to vote on this new tax? We were allowed to vote to approve to initiate the franchise tax and we granted ourselves the assurances that it would not be extended without another voter referendum. But that right apparently did not transfer to us when we incorporated (I actually think it did, but I personally did not get a vote on that consideration).
BOTTOM LINE: 3 out of 5 members of the village council have placed a 30 year encumbrance on all electric service in Palmetto Bay, first at 3.5% and then increasing to 6%. Your money. Love the tax or hate it, where's your voice?I warned you about this on September 9, 2019, see: FPL Franchise Fee Reboot. Once again, first attempt rendered invalid. Will a 5 year phase out become a 30 new encumbrance?