Sunday, July 13, 2014

Terry Murphy's Opinion Column: TAXES. By Geniusofdespair

Tax rate + higher values = tax increase

The whole truth is often complicated. A partial truth is much easier to grasp. Partial truths about property taxes, told repeatedly, have made rational discussion about county taxes extremely difficult. Politicians repeatedly claim they have voted to keep the tax rate flat, or they lowered the tax rate, even when property taxes have increased. By focusing exclusively on the rate of taxation, we deny ourselves an opportunity to honestly discuss the truth about property taxes.

In 1980, the Florida Legislature recognized that local officials were misleading their constituents about property taxes and passed the “Truth in Millage” law. Under the law, if local property taxes are being increased, the public must be notified. If a local government plans to increase property taxes, the county or city must advertise their intentions with an 18-point font headline declaring a “Notice of Proposed Tax Increase” in the newspaper of general circulation (Florida Statutes, 200.062).

The Truth in Millage law was introduced following a period of rapid increase in the value of properties. Back then, local politicians would boast of lowering the tax rate, or keeping the tax rate flat, but their local government would still be piling up more tax revenues in the coffers. Even though the law now requires the truth about property taxes be advertised, the repeated half-truths by some officials, often unchallenged by the media, leave many people confused about property taxes.

Read more in the Miami Herald


Anonymous said...

Kids call the game, capture the flag.

Anonymous said...

Terry Murphy should run for mayor! Thank you for that insightful article

Anonymous said...

I think what Mr. Murphy is trying to say in his professorial tone is Carlos Gimenez mantra "I will not raise taxes " is really an academic exercise in esoteric semantics played to the cheap seats who don't know any better.
The reality is the mayor has virtually no real impact over the average total tax bill. Depending on where you live there may be a dozen line items by half a dozen taxing authorities that add up to your tax bill.

So the truth is taxes have gone up and will continue to go up. What Terry is saying is if the mayor was really interested in a balanced budget AND play to the cheap seats there are number of ways he could and still claim a flat tax rate.
But instead the mayor wants to go after the working employees pay and benefits while ignoring the elephant in the room which is hundreds of millions in bond money, sweetheart deals, mismanagement, a broken procurement system, and the always present top-heavy bureaucracy ripe with patronage, friends and family.
At the end of the day cutting workers and workers pay is like cutting the end of the elephant's tail. You haven't really made the elephant smaller just pissed him off. What the unions are asking is just quit feeding the elephant.

Anonymous said...

Gimenez's "I will not raise taxes" is an academic exercise in esoteric semantics played to the cheap seats who don't know any better
Terry is right saying is if the mayor was really interested in a balanced budget he could and still claim a flat tax rate to his base in the cheap seats.
Instead the mayor wants to go after the lowly working employees ignoring the elephant in the room, millions in waste, fraud, mismanagement and sweetheart dealings.

Cutting workers is like cutting the end of the elephant's tail. You haven't really made the elephant smaller just pissed him off.

What the employees are asking is just quit feeding the damn elephant.

Anonymous said...

The biggest problem facing municipal governments nationwide is out of control salary and benefits given to municipal employees. The extension of that is out-of-control pension benefits that have already forced a handful of cities into bankruptcy. Hundreds, most likely thousands, of cities will face bankruptcy in the near future. Unions are too powerful and elected officials are weak and easily controlled by powerful employee unions. Carlos Gimenez and Tomas Regalado need to take a firm stand to reduce pay and benefits. Perhaps a pay maximum should be instituted? $100,000 per year?

CATO said...

Mr Murphy rightfully claims that politicians stretch the truth on their claims about lowering taxes (Their stretching of the truth in reality stretches beyond tax claims). BUT I would argue that though he is not legally obliged to do so, in the interest of ethical behavior Mr. Murphy should disclose if any party with interest in this budget battle is remunerating him in any way. That would not necessarily diminish the value of his OPED but it would allow the reader to make a more sound and informed judgement on this matter.

Which is I suppose the intent of this piece.

All that said I would agree that taxes are part of the price we pay for and (somewhat)orderly society, BUT when those taxes become draconian and the apparatus which it supports becomes corrupt and inefficient then I would argue that society begins to breakdown.

We are approaching the latter at a break neck pace.

Anonymous said...

Taxes are too high. Whatever the taxes are union stooges like Terry Murphy will be paid to divert as much of the taxes to union pay and benefits as possible. Police officers making $275,000 per year, including benefits? Firemen who sit at desks, making $275,000 per year, including benefits? Both paid by Miami-Dade County taxpayers and both living in Broward County. Seriously?

Fulanito said...

Something that really bothers me is the fact that there are people out there that maintain the notion that the recession is over.

In fact, I venture to claim that we have been living in a "moderate but sustained depression" ever since George W. Bush left office.

High unemployment continues, there is high "employment anxiety" which means - for those of you in the cheap seats, constant fear of losing one's job. Reduced salaries and/or workable hours, coupled with a reduction in overall benefits.

The average taxpayer continues to hurt. Did you all hear that?! - the average taxpayer continues to hurt.

Now, when such an economic climate exists, YOU DO NOT RAISE TAXES ON ANY TAXPAYER - PERIOD! How is that so difficult to understand?

What I find inexcusable and highly polarizing is that there are a significant number of people who work for the public sector that are making an exorbitant amount of money and they want MORE OF OUR MONEY because they are professionals and provide "Professional Services" to the rest of us.

These people don't realize how lucky they are to have a job at all in such an economic climate.

Maybe, if we reduced such unrealistic salaries and benefits to these folks while keeping them at their jobs, at a time of great economic distress, we can fund EVERY County service without asking the taxpayers for any more money.

But then again, that would require our "professionals" - the Mayor and the Union Bosses to come to the negotiating table and negotiate in a professional manner.

As we have seen so far, the Administration and the Unions have us all again by the "short hairs."

Miami-Dade, continue to keep your head in the sand - the BILL IS IN THE MAIL!

Anonymous said...

The median income in Miami-Dade County is $30,000+/- per year. All too often that is with NO benefits. No health insurance and NO defined benefit pension plan. Miami-Dade County have a median income of $70,000+ per year and 1,000's make well over $100,000+ per year with incredible health insurance and DEFINED BENEFIT PENSIONS that allow them to retire after 20 years of employment making almost 100% of their recent pay. The benefits paid to public sector employees is crushing the future of actual M-D County taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

To above anon; You just make it up as you go along? Median union worker incomes nowhere near $70,000 no golden parachutes no health insurance for life no hundred thousand dollar plus salaries. You are thinking of county managers and bureaucrats? them we got. Lots of chiefs, not so many indians.

Median income for midcareer labor unit employee $42,000 pension after 30 years is about 1/3 income. No insurance. Most employees aging out now started in the 80's when starting skilled, license tradesman paid $6 hr. while the private sector paid twice as much. .

Anonymous said...

When I look around and see the grass is knee high in my public park and the traffic medians of my neighborhood in unincorporated Miami-Dade County, something is wrong. In my neighborhood houses sell for $300k and up. The public areas should be maintained properly to keep our property values up. If that means a slight increase in property taxes so be it. I agree with Mr. Murphy, regardless of who he represents - it's simple common sense.

Anonymous said...

Due to layoffs of laborers mowing cycle in some areas down to 6 times a year. Some areas have 8' cane grass growing but glad to report no cut backs or layoffs at the county attorney's office:/

Heck, those high paid attorneys never even took the 5% cutback everyone else had to.

Call the mayor, not the parks.

Anonymous said...

As I walk around Costco, the Dadeland Mall, the restaurants at Mary Brickell Village, Publix I see crowds. I see transactions. I see full parking lots. I see money flowing at movie theaters, at coffee shops.

Property taxes are proportional to the assessed value of the home. Homestead Exemption limits hikes of more than 3% a year.

The poor pay very little in property taxes. In fact, when I've checked the property rolls of letters to the editor submissions, the biggest complainers were paying zero due to disabilities or veteran status. Stingy hypocrites.

Taxes are the cost of living in a society. However, there are choices. Get off the grid, get out to a rural area - pay nothing and do life's requirements for water, sewer, trash, etc. for yourself.

Anonymous said...

Here's a little social experiment in our own backyard. How about no taxes. How would living the Florida life, island living, turn out? One big Margaritaville fantasy? People living free and large and respectful of our natural God given South Florida bounty?

Here's the recent article to show how the lifestyle panned out:

"The 22-acre slice of paradise, which her father bought in 1956, is located across from the popular Alabama Jack’s bar and restaurant on Card Sound Road. On her visit, she discovered the place is now a disgusting dumpsite.

Her inheritance included discarded toilets, broken crab traps, hanging wires, rusted pots, decrepit docks, six derelict vessels, a fully sunken boat and a half sunken houseboat — and she became the person ultimately responsible for the expensive cleanup.

It all was left by squatters and commercial fishermen, who for decades had used her parents’ remote private land as the site of a marina, roadside shantytown and eye-catching souvenir shop, all illegally built among mangroves and over an environmentally sensitive waterway that leads to the Atlantic Ocean. “I had no clue,” said Mezey, who lives in Coral Gables.

Read more here:

So to all of you tax hating blog commenters, go cop a squat in your own piece of paradise, until you too have fouled it up.

Fulanito said...

I am not suggesting, in any way, of getting rid of County services. Please, if you came away with that conclusion, then you did not understand my post.

What I AM suggesting is that there ARE a lot of public servants who live very "high on the public hog" at our expense - collecting over $100,000 - $200,000 + salaries + benefits which is insulting to the average taxpayer trying to make ends meet each month.

I am not suggesting getting rid of any of these public employees. We need them. They provide much-needed services. However, WE CAN TRIM their salaries to a more respectable level so that there is more than enough $$$ to fund ALL County services, allow them to keep their jobs and not ask anymore $$$ from the private taxpayer AT THIS TIME.

And to the person who posted that restaurants and theaters are full, don't kid yourself. Many are locals and foreigners who use their credit cards on a daily basis and pay the absolute minimum each month.

Very irresponsible behavior since bankruptcy does not have the stigma it once did. They're simply digging themselves into a debt hole which has been proven to be very difficult to get out of.

But I digress. My point is that we CAN fund EVERYTHING. We just need to do it cheaper.

Until the economy improves, public employees must share the burden and hunker down like the rest of us.

And please, don't get me started on Tolls cause you'll hear me!

Fulanito said...

Oh, before I forget. To the poster who indicated that the very poor and disabled pay very little money in taxes and services.

You ARE kidding, right?

For those poor people who live paycheck to paycheck and the fixed-income disabled who are forced to rent because they can't afford a house - they pay plenty in taxes for property and services.

It's very simple to explain, really, cause I used to be a renter for many years until I was able to buy (get a mortgage) my house.

The owner of the rental property factors-in property taxes, school board taxes, etc., into the monthly rent. Its funny cause incredibly, there ARE people out there who claim that renters don't pay any property taxes at all.

Outrageous, right? But its true.

And when you raise taxes on property owners, they swing it back down to the renters with what?

Wait for it....

Higher rents!

Its very simple arithmetic. If I am property owner who owns income properties and my costs go up, I simply raise the rent on whomever rents from me - whether they are poor or disabled.

Anyway, I want to thank G.O.D. for publishing Mr. Murphy's article. Very interesting. Misguided, but interesting.

Anonymous said...

Me. Murphy for Mayor, as suggested above, grand idea!

Anonymous said...

About renters suffering because landlords have to pay taxes....

Another Terry Murphy article addresses that scenario.

To remain a desirable community for economic investment, tax policies must be thoughtful, deliberate and defensible. Tax policy should not be set during the heat of a political campaign. Two years ago, the bumper-sticker pledge to repeal tax rates, while property values were still dropping, led to a $200-million loss in funding for county services.

While the stockholders of FP&L, the largest property owner in Miami-Dade County, surely appreciated the windfall tax break of more than $6 million in 2011, our electric bills did not go down. Landlords in Miami-Dade may still be smiling from their unexpected profits. Rents were not lowered after the 2011 tax break. Since the tax break, the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Miami-Dade County has steadily increased, from $1,386 in August 2011 to $1,613 in May 2013 (Reinhold P. Wolff Economic Research, Inc.).

For the working people of Miami-Dade County, the $200-million tax break of 2011 has meant a reduction in public services, an increase in service fees and no relief in rents or utility bills. What happened?

According to the Florida Department of Revenue, the owners of homestead residential property in Miami-Dade County pay 27.2 percent of the property taxes. What does that mean? For every $1 of county property tax paid by a local homeowner, other property owners pay another $2.68. In effect, any increase in property tax rates for a homeowner in Miami-Dade County leverages a substantially greater contribution from the snowbirds, foreign investors, national retail chains and corporations that pay the bulk of the property tax bill. Conversely, a tax rate reduction provides greater monetary relief for nonhomestead property owners. For every $1 reduction in a homeowner’s tax bill, the county forfeits $3.68 in revenues. A lot of that money simply leaves town.

Read more here:

Anonymous said...

Miami-Dade County Commissioners should vote for a substantial REDUCTION to the mileage rate and for a substantial reduction in taxes. Gimenez should start reducing expenses. He has been a failure. Any tax increase (higher mileage rate or higher assessed value increase) gets passed on to residents, renters, business owners and tourists and business owners just RAISE prices to further abuse renters and residents. Higher taxes just give us more multi-millionaire public sector employees.

Anonymous said...

I'm not kidding about the poor and rent. It's called gouging and has very little to do with actual taxes. Would you rent in an area that's low tax and so low services?

Hmm, why does a banana cost so much in a ghetto convenience store? Why, because the shop owner can jack up the price on the poor.

Anonymous said...

Dear Across the Board Reducer,

Just leave.

Thank you.

-a person who learned to share in kindergarten

Terry Murphy said...

I want to thank G.O.D for posting my op-ed and I appreciate the feedback from all who have commented. To CATO, my affiliation with public sector unions is no secret. I am proud to provide my services to improve the lives of working people, in and out of government.

Some of the other comments focused on earnings. I, too, cringe at some of the exorbitant salaries earned by certain public officials. The vast majority of these high-earners are in the exempt executive services and are not covered by collective bargaining units. Those high salaries, and the pay policies that drive those salaries, are approved in the Pay Plan of Miami-Dade County each year during the annual budget process. Rarely is the Pay Plan discussed or amended, but it is adopted each year with the annual budget.

When you hear of a bargaining unit member making six-figures, it is most likely due to overtime earnings. If management would properly staff operations, the opportunities for excessive overtime would disappear. Too often, the Administration cuts positions to demonstrate their fiscal integrity...and then ends up paying incredible overtime. Management could do a better of staffing.

It is possible to restructure the Pay Plan for the executives and, at the same time, bargain fair agreements with the workers to ensure the county has the best and brightest serving this community. But it takes time and effort. If a Mayor or County Manager spent as much time on the payroll structure as they spent on stadium deals for billionaires, maybe this problem would not persist. Excessive pay for a minority makes it difficult to craft fair compensation plans for the majority of the smart, capable, qualified public employees that serve this community day after day.

Neglecting this difficult human resources work, and then putting forth reckless tax policy that jeopardizes public safety and the stability of this community, is totally unacceptable and unproductive. Let's hope something changes at County Hall.

Anonymous said...

WOW Last anon your economic IQ is loooooow.

The banana cost more in a small mom and pop store in a low income convenience store because;

A- The Store Owner Doesn't Have the Purchasing Power of Big Chain Supermarkets
B- Big Chain Supermarkets don't want to put up with extra insurance cost and Security issues so mom and pop convenience store owner works it into his price
C- Higher shoplifting rates have to be passed on to paying customers otherwise the convenience store will have to close due to lack of profitability
D- All of the Above