OPINION: Group’s Tax Proposal Shows Lack of Understanding How Government Operates

Posted on March 3, 2022 by EDITORIAL BOARD

In a nutshell, Preserve Navarre wants Santa Rosa County to make a double-digit reduction of its budget across the board so that if Navarre voters approve incorporation their group could levy a 1 mill annual property tax rate on property owners.

In the proposal, which was released today via social media, Preserve Navarre shared no details about how it would be possible for the county to make such a drastic roughly $11-16 million budget reduction at a time when expenditures are skyrocketing. Do they even know that Santa Rosa County already has one of the lowest mill rates in the State of Florida?

Preserve Navarre also didn’t provide specifics about what services they could offer in return for Navarre homeowners paying 1 mill each year to the proposed future city.

I’m glad to see Preserve Navarre did clarify its key points to say it would ensure that at least 90% of bed tax revenues generated in Navarre would stay in Navarre. But there’s still a huge problem with this claim.

Preserve Navarre members need to educate themselves with Florida State Statutes Chapter 125 because, per state law, bed taxes go to counties, not cities. A county can distribute some taxes back to cities; however, there are extremely stringent requirements upon how bed tax revenues at our level can be spent.

Following are the key points the group shared: 

1. Preserve Navarre’s incorporation plan first requires a TAX CUT from Santa Rosa County. This is long overdue as revenues have never been higher in Santa Rosa County. The tax cut should be a reduction of the millage rate by 1.

2. The City of Navarre will provide only those services that residents value. The major departments would be infrastructure, parks and recreation, redevelopment, and community affairs while other departments would be contracted as required.

3. The City will be funded through various means. A major source will be the bed tax, as we ensure that at least 90% of tourism revenues from Navarre gets spent here in Navarre.

4. Among the funding sources, the city would use a property tax of 1 mill. When combined with the County tax cut, this makes Preserve Navarre’s proposal TAX NEUTRAL for local Navarre property taxes.

This demonstrates Preserve Navarre members lack an understanding of what they can and cannot control – with or without incorporation. This proposal is so unrealistic that it’s absurb.

They need to learn more about the issues, consult with subject matter expects and try again.

Meanwhile, Navarre Area United, a second group also aiming to incorporate Navarre, announced that in March or April it will release its incorporation feasibility study, which is being professionally produced by The Haas Center at the University of West Florida.