I am a pro-smart growth, pro-taxpayer candidate.
What does that mean?
I firmly believe we can restore the quality of life that drew many of us to Volusia County by respecting our citizens while providing an attractive environment for current businesses. That same goal is the best strategy for courting new business to move here, grow here, and hire our citizens.
But I also believe all the independent studies showing this cannot be done by ‘bribing’ individual businesses with incentives. The only proven approach that works is to have a low tax environment that attracts business and a desirable environment to live and work in.
We are straining our tax base by forgiving property taxes and paying infrastructure costs for profitable businesses to relocate or stay in our county. The sales pitch to taxpayers is that these giveaways provide a "multiplier" benefit that says the new high paying jobs make up the difference in lost revenue. Research does not bear that out.
Here is what does work- stop expensive incentive packages we can't afford and use our existing tax dollars for the essential services government was created to provide. Then we would have the money we need to make our county desirable for every business and resident. We don’t have a tax problem, we have a spending problem.
If Volusia County picks and chooses which businesses get tax incentives, you alienate existing businesses struggling under higher property taxes, and whose employees (your fellow residents) struggle with higher sales taxes.
What you give up…
You may not have heard about this issue. It’s not like you can see the money being given away. But you will see the results.
What are you sacrificing, as a citizen and a taxpayer, if the County government gives away millions of tax dollars in incentives? It’s a long list, but here are some examples:
1. Infrastructure improvements. A new company ‘incentivized’ with tax credits, means less money for our roads. Congestion isn’t the result of more people, it’s the result of not adjusting the infrastructure as more people arrive. The County can’t fix the issues because they forgave taxes as an incentive and used our tax dollars to pay for the infrastructure of a profitable business. So they want to raise your taxes again.
2. The future of our children: Education. More kids in school but without additional revenue from the business that brought them. When you have the same amount of money but need to educate more children, it’s like thinning out the soup to feed more people. If we are going to live on property taxes our county needs those taxes from every business, not just the employees.
3. Adequate protection. Police and Sheriff’s Departments, Fire and EMS Services, Beach Safety, and other support personnel must live on a budget. As the county stresses our limited budged to pay for new or existing companies to expand we see the results of slower response times, more calls per station, wages that can’t keep up with inflation, and then hiring problems. It’s a downward spiral. Did you know that in Volusia County we already experience EMS shortages several times a day? There are more emergency calls than there are county ambulances to respond to them.
4. Will we lose compassion? The programs will suffer that support those incapable of working, those struggling with medical issues beyond their financial capability, and those who are down on their luck and needing a temporary hand-up. The money has to come from somewhere, but when the pot is empty, it’s gone. Unless of course, we go back to raising property taxes and the sale tax- which I vehemently oppose.
5. Invariably, people will complain about these problems and the County will be ‘forced’ to raise property taxes and the sales tax, again!
What the independent experts say
In case you think this is just Chicken Little screaming ‘The Sky is falling!’, listen to this independent assessment done by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy:
“If offering more tax incentives requires spending less on public education, congestion-relieving infrastructure projects, workforce development, police and fire protection, or high technology initiatives at public universities, the overall impact on a state’s economy could actually be negative.”
If it applies to a state, even more so to Volusia County!
My position: As a pro-smart growth, pro-taxpayer candidate, we can attract business that employs our citizens without paying highly profitable businesses tax incentive ‘bribes’. The Volusia County Division of Economic Development says we are already growing and in the top 40% of Metropolitan Statistical Areas- nationally! So we don’t need to bribe new business to come and we obviously cannot afford it.
Businesses need customers with a little money left in their pockets and reliable employees. The best way we can do that is to offer what few other counties seem capable of:
Low taxes instead of the second highest tax rate in the State.
Good roads and infrastructure.
Safety because we provide fire fighters, police and deputies the tools they need to provide
Well trained employees and four quality colleges and universities.
User friendly government that comes alongside residents and business.
A beautiful environment with safe water to drink instead of poorly planned urban sprawl with
houses built over water recharge areas and wetlands.
A free and open beach that attracts families and family oriented business.
Open recreation land our tax dollars paid for. Give families a variety of recreational options.
Promote our beautiful lak