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Palm Beach Civic Association
Palm Beach, Florida 33480

 
June 20, 2010
 
The Editor
Palm Beach Daily News
Palm Beach, Florida 33480
 
Dear Sir:
 
The Palm Beach Civic Association Tax and Finance Committee has reviewed the Town budget for 2011. As chairman, I met with the Palm Beach finance director to better understand the budget proposals. After consideration, we wish to make the following comments: 
 
The Civic Association sees the 2011 budget as a “first step” in addressing the Town’s looming financial concerns. We believe the Town Council directives to hold the line on taxes and maintain current service levels are worthy goals. While we endorse these lofty objectives, we are convinced that achieving such a delicate balance will be extremely difficult in the real world. Tradeoffs will be required. The total budget picture must be considered, not any one element.
 
We oppose raising taxes for Palm Beach residents. No matter how you slice it, millage rate increases affect us. As a result of the “Save our Homes Act,” long term residents will experience a tax increase (as their historically low taxable home values continue an upward adjustment) while newer residents will quite probably see their taxes stay the same or decrease slightly (as their taxable home value continues to erode). Any millage rate increase should only be considered if the Town Council is willing to embrace a credible, uncompromising, long term plan that will restore fiscal viability.
 
At the April 6, 2010 Town Council meeting on finances, I commended the Town Manager “…for presenting documents that are fair and balanced and which react to clear and definitive financial pressures facing the Town.” I went on to say that “The Town Council must take action that is prudent and fiscally responsible. Any new plan must meaningfully ensure the financial health of the Town of Palm Beach.”; and “…the long term planning and forecasting concept should be viewed as fluid and dynamic as opposed to static.”
 
The Town Council has received solid recommendations to ensure the long term viability of the Town’s finances. We hope the Council possesses the political will to adopt these recommendations in the face of challenging union negotiations and pressure from Town staff and residents.  
 
Pat Cooper
Tax and Finance Committee Chair  
Palm Beach Civic Association