Give Taxpayers a Break, Barnett Says

The building boom and the demand for property in Bay County has led to a staggering 47 percent increase in the value of the local tax base, and the property appraiser says the county should give property owners a break.

The huge increase in the taxable property rolls could mean a bonanza for taxing agencies such as the county commission and the school board.

The School Board, for example, last year collected about $100 million from us. This year, with no tax rollback, that would explode to $149 million. All this comes on the heels of a 39 percent increase in the tax rolls last year.

Bay County Property Appraiser Rick Barnett's letter to the county commission concedes the county needs more money to provide more services to handle the growth. He urges the commissioners to include a reasonable increase in the county budget and then to lower the tax rate for the property owners:

Barnett’s letter says, "Everyday I listen to people that are struggling to pay their taxes, pay their insurance. I'm just asking them to really be conservative with the budgets, our budgets. It's the taxpayers’ money that we are spending as government officials. There’s just a tremendous amount of revenue increase. I think we need to be as conservative as possible and try to give some of that money back to the people."

Bay County commissioners aren't commenting on Barnett's letter.