Tuesday, September 25th, 2012 at 12:19pm

Leesburg Backs Off Property Tax Increase: Electrical Rates Undecided

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Monday night, more than 300 citizens and businesspeople showed up for the City of Leesburg Commission meeting at the Community Building in Venetian Gardens to express their displeasure over proposed property millage and electrical rate increases.  The Leesburg Commission previously voted to approve the budget with an increase in property millage rates (property taxes) from $4.3179 per mil (thousand dollars of value) to $5.125 and a utility rate increase of 1.20%.

The meeting began with yet another long, laborious 50-minute explanation by City Manager Jay Evans on why the City of Leesburg needs more money.  In our view, Evans’ presentation at the beginning of the meeting was a ploy to tap down the crowd’s enthusiasm.  It was apparent after the first five minutes of his presentation, most of the crowd had zoned him out preferring to check their Facebook status on their smart phones.  Unfortunately for Evans, his presentation only prolonged the evening, and failed to tap down the angst by the attendees who were solidly opposed to tax increases.

Once the public began to speak, it was clear no one was in the mood to hear why the City of Leesburg’s priorities were worth picking their pockets for.  Bill Jarvis presented the Leesburg Commission with more than 1,400 citizen signatures and 300 business signatures opposed to any tax or electricity increase.  Dan Robuck III and Bennett Walling, who spent more than 10 hours with city staff, presented detailed information on areas where the city could trim their budget along with new information regarding cash flow management of the electrical fund. Caroline VanDyken presented almost a dozen examples of overspending, mismanagement, and reckless spending by the City of Leesburg, and she chastised the Leesburg Commission for not taking the hard steps of balancing the budget.  Speaker after speaker lambasted the city administration and commissioners for wanting to balance a budget on the backs of the citizens and business community who are tapped out.

After public comment, the commissioners begin tangling with various options.  An initial proposal by Commissioner Bill Polk to keep the millage rate at last year’s ($4.3179) with a utility rate increase and movement of reserves was defeated 3-2 with Mayor Sanna Henderson, Commissioner John Christian, and Commissioner David Knowles opposing the measure.  Then the commissioners went through a host of options proposed by staff intermingled with public comment which went nowhere.  None of those options were approved.

Finally, after two hours of continuous brow-beating by the public, Commissioner  Christian relented and made a motion to keep property millage rates at last year’s rate of $4.3179, and increase utility rates 1.20% if the cash flow analysis of the electrical department and reserve availability did not achieve the savings many believe it would.  The motion passed 5-0.  It took a couple of hours of full throated criticism by the public to accept the basic proposal that Commissioner Polk made at the beginning of the deliberations.

This was a victory for every taxpayer in the City of Leesburg who showed up.  Bill Jarvis and Troy Townsend, who worked so hard rallying the community in their petition drive, must be credited with providing the impetus for the huge turnout.  Bennett Walling and Dan Robuck III did their homework and the normal “no we can’t” position of the city staff was debunked.

This was a community victory; however, it is not complete.  It is vital that the citizens of Leesburg do not allow city staff to take the easy way out and simply increase electrical rates–it is time for them to do the heavy lifting of balancing a budget with the revenues they have.

In Monday night’s crowd were people from all races and economic levels who sent a clear message to their political leaders, “No more taxes!” People are sick and tired of everyone picking their pockets when most can barely put food on their family’s kitchen table.  This should be a clear lesson for the citizens of other municipalities in Lake County–it is time to stand up against runaway government.  Politicians and government staff had better beware, because there is something brewing in the grassroots that may be binding us all–distrust of government.  Like many said on Monday night, “You work for us!”

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4 Responses to “Leesburg Backs Off Property Tax Increase: Electrical Rates Undecided”

  1. Scottie is not just one of them he is the longest serving sheep in the flock! Actually the second longest is the son of the bondsman extraordinaire who pimped his son out to Borders when he was running the jail for the soul purpose of getting as much of the jail bond business as possible. Everyone booked gets his card, This was even before the bondsman worked the deal with the county to put his office just outside the front door of the jail. Don’t know who he pimped out for that one. This one has been known to go back to daddy Borders when in need of special favors for friends. And, when they split he went for a younger darker man and moved to Orlando.

    If this is true it will be very devastating to Borders. Replacing the love of his life even with his available resources won’t be as easy as some might think. This is a very sick man and no, I can not believe this is our sheriff! He is one of the last people on earth that should be in that position.

  2. it seems one of gary’s fairies has floew the coop. little scottie is dating a much younger darker man these days. i’ll bet borders can be seen back his howey house more these days. can you believe this is our sheriff?

  3. The omnibus intelligent Ralph Smith congratulated the people of Leesburg for this acheivement on the Right side Facebook page then turned around and told them they could save al this time by electing people who would do the tight thing in the first place.

    This is coming from a man right in the sack with Sheriff Borders. On the jailhouse vendor list for jail vehicle tires and maintenance. Right in the culture of corruption of Lake County government up to his eyeballs and he has the audacity to tell Leesburg voters to elect people who will do the right thing in the first place. Look up the word hypocrite on line and it will propbably show you a picture of Ralph Smith.

  4. Name Taxed says:

    This shows that talking can lead to action and then to positive results. Credit needs to go to the RSOL too. – Thanks

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