County Commissioner Changes View

By: Sabrina Zimring
By: Sabrina Zimring

Two weeks ago, Bay County Commissioner George Gainer was the only member of the board to vote for a one and a half mil tax cut for property owners. The idea was to help homeowners with the burden of higher taxes due to skyrocketing property values and increasing insurance rates.

At that time, Jerry Girvin said the board should hold the line, using the extra revenue to provide more services and pay off county debt.

Mike Thomas, Bay County Commissioner, said, "Commissioner Girvin probably has the hardest job of us and his constituents would like him to pave their roads so he's harder about giving anything, but for a good reason."

But property owners weren't as understanding. They've been bombarding him with e-mails and phones calls, demanding a cut in the millage rate.

On Tuesday, Girvin answered those demands, unexpectedly proposing to cut the county's millage rate by one mil, and then some.

Jerry Girvin said, "I'm gonna propose we drop ad valorem by one mil and ask constitutional officers to drop it by half a mil equivocally."

Some may wonder if Girvin’s sudden change of heart has anything to do with him running for reelection, but Girvin says it doesn't.

"Some people say this is a political thing. I began to hear and see people who are hurting. I believe there is a balance that we can reach that can let us reach our goat that can give some relief to some folks out there."

Gainer, who already voted for a tax cut, went along with Girvin's proposal, but the other three commissioners said they didn't want to make a snap decision without thinking things over.

Commissioner Bill Dozier said, "Don't overreact, but it needs to be cut in increments. I'd like to see us roll it back some, dedicate some to past debt, take off some of the infrastructure then it's a win-win for everybody."

Although commissioners did not approve the cut Tuesday, they agreed to take it up again during their September 5 budget meeting. That's also primary election day.

Gainer and Girvin are the only incumbents up for reelection this year and both men's opponents support a tax rollback. Girvin's race will be decided on September 5.


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