Bay TaxWatch Is Formed

The fight over rising property values and the amount of tax property owners pay on their land took a new turn this week.

Two local businessmen, Charles Hilton and Charles Faircloth, are forming a "TaxWatch" group, in hopes of shedding some light on the tax issue.

Like any other local businessmen they say they would like to see the Bay County enjoy economic prosperity.

But to accomplish that goal, Hilton says county government needs to find the right property tax balance.

“The county has the joystick they can regulate up and down depending on what property appraiser gives them."

Hilton is the former president of the statewide group called Florida Tax Watch. He's calling for the county to keep tax increases at bay.

"The only way to make government more efficient is to give it less money. And I'm a firm believe in that and I have fought on several occasions to keep taxes down as much as we could."

Hilton says the responsibility of compensating for inflated property value lies with the county commission.

"The law says when there is an increase in values then there is an evaluation by property appraiser, then the county commission is required to roll back the millage so the revenue the government got last year is the same as this next year and if they don't the law says it's a tax increase."

Hilton says according to the Property Appraiser’s Office, a rollback of 1.7 mils would be necessary this year to maintain revenue even with last year.

Bay TaxWatch is a local group designed to inform the public about local tax entities. They'll use a similar format to the existing state TaxWatch program.

"We want rank and file, cross sections on economy. It's not rich or poor this everyone is affected."

While Hilton is aware of the county's existing debt and commitment to several large capital improvement projects, he says it may be appropriate for the county to reconsider its priorities.

"Maybe we don't need to create debt for county admin building or library. Real property is one of the last store values that the average individual can look forward to of making of his retirement but if you're going to tax it to the point you can't hold on to it then it's inappropriate and it's not necessary."

If you'd like to know more about Bay TaxWatch, log onto their website at www.baytaxwatch.com. The web site will be active by Friday.


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