Monday, June 11, 2007

Florida's Decline

According to an article today in the St. Pete Times, people are emigrating away from Florida. Quickly. Much of this is due to the increase in the cost of living here. As I wrote last month, our property taxes in the Tampa Bay Area are up to 100 times what they are elsewhere. Our parasitical governments feed on us as ticks feed on dogs.

Recently, when newly-elected Governor Crist announced that he wants to cause a major decrease in property taxes, local city governments went into hysterics, dramatically proclaiming that programs will have to be cut! Drastically!

Yup, that means we would no longer have the luxury of such marvellous programs as the face-recognition technology used by Tampa police during the 2001 Super Bowl and in the nearby entertainment district of Ybor City. That system is designed to recognize the facial characteristics of potential terrorists and criminals by matching people on the street with a database of 30,000 mug shots. But Tampa police scrapped the Ybor City program in 2004, citing its failure over two years to recognize anyone wanted by authorities.

It is common knowlege that if you don't spend it THIS year, it won't be in the budget NEXT year. In other words, if you're allocated $1 million to build new sidewalks, you'd better put in those sidewalks or you won't have that $1 million to play with again the next year so you'd better build sidewalks EVERYwhere. So, many of these governments spend wastefully because they always want the promise of that extra money in case of an emergency down the road. The city of Clearwater is notorious for having sidewalks built everywhere, even where they're not needed, for this very reason. Clearwater has sidewalks like the Winchester Mystery House has rooms.

We are so busy concentrating on Big Government that little governments go unnoticed and unchecked. Realtors are despairing because so many properties remain on the market, unsold. Residents are packing up and moving out in droves, school attendence is down, and yet construction continues unabated. Until these little governments are controlled by the people, this decline will continue until these governments either choose to reign in their spending or are forced to do so.

And Florida should be an example to all: If you allow growth to be encouraged, unchecked, with no regard to current residents or the environmental needs (we are now constantly in water shortages), the infrastructure WILL crumble. It's only a matter of when.


Hans said...

Government spending is like your cable bill. Death by a thousand cuts. A million little things that seem reasonably necessary and affordable but when they all get wrapped together and your writing that check at the end of the month your thinking, why am I spending this much money to watch TV. What we need from government is basic cable. Pick up the trash, put out the fires, enforce the laws, fix the roads. We end up getting HBO/Cinemax/Starz, DVR, mulitiple box rentals, high speed internet access, HD Package, Sports Package and phone service with unlimited long distance.

daveawayfromhome said...

I would guess that the problem is less with the "little governments" than with the corruption in those little governments. Florida has a reputation as bad as New York/Jersey, maybe even as bad as New Orleans. Maybe it's not actually true (you live there and know better than I), but it probably is (or maybe it's not more corrupt, rather more talked about than other places).
Let's look at those sidewalks: did they really spend all that money on the sidewalks, and did they spend it because they needed them, or because some construction company needed the payments for building them?

I wouldnt blame the high cost of living totally for the people leaving, I'd probably say that some of them are leaving because of the possibility of hurricanes and the increased force of those storms as the world gets warmer (whatever the reason).

As for realtors dispairing, I'm going to have to compare that to blackjack players dispairing. No matter how good your run, it's going to have to come an end sometime (and no sympathy for developers, who have a special place in hell reserved for them).

Hans said...


I don't think that corruption is an issue here in the Tampa Bay area. I don't even think it's taxes at this point. Taxes for people who've been living in their current house for 5+ years aren't that bad. It's when we go to sell that the jump in taxes comes into play. For my little house I'm paying around $1000/year. If I was to buy that same little house today my taxes would be in excess of $3000/year or more. That is what is killing the real estate market.

In this area it's congestion and insurance that has people wanting a change of scenery. That and having our first blast of real summer heat and humidity has us thinking there has got to be a better place to be.

The Lazy Iguana said...

Just a market correction.

Local governments did not really "raise" property taxes. That was just "hey elect me" bullshit. What really happened was the assessed VALUE of the property went up, thereby instantly raising the taxes on the property. And the values were going up by crazy amounts! If the value of your home goes up by 15%, then your property taxes also go up by close to the same amount. Without the evil local government doing anything.

So when there are unsold properties on the market, the values will drop and therefore taxes will drop.

The plan to "get rid of property taxes" was insane. I knew it was not possible. Well it is possible, but we would need to pretty much shut down local governments. No more public schools, no more street lights, no more cops, no more fire rescue, no more city parks, and so on.

The sales tax to replace property tax is a dead issue - unless you want a 10% (or more) sales tax. State Income Tax is a political death wish. Anyone who proposes it will be hunted down and flogged.

So I sit back and laugh. Lets see if ole Charlie Boy can deliver on his promise. Which he can't.

I think what we will see is a County by County property tax adjustment. The average value home (or below average value home) will see a cut in taxes while the above average value and super above average value homes may see an increase. Ill cry for all those on Star Island with their $15 million mansions when they have to downsize to a runty 65 foot yacht because they are taxed out of the 80 foot yacht.

I also look for tax portability for people jumping houses. The first time buyers will take it up the cornhole.

R2K said...

Hmmm, from my area it just seems like so many people are moving there. The prices there still seem so cheap compared to around here!

Kathleen said...


Hans said...

Article on the front page of the St. Pete Times this morning trying to explain the proposed property tax changes. Holy Cow, what a mess. I'm going to have to sit down with my lawyer and accountant so they can explain how I'm going to get sodomized by this one.

Ed Abbey said...

I'm sorry Saur but I missed your point. You started talking about all these sidewalks and I got to thinking about my town with so few sidewalks. We have to walk in the streets because people build new developments and don't include sidewalks. Thus we are always risking our lives as everyone drives because there are no sidewalks. Maybe you could work it in so that Florida could spend some of that sidewalk money up here.