Residents of Apalachicola will likely see their electric bills go up in the months ahead, as city commissioners have voted to broaden the 10 percent municipal public service tax it levies on electricity users.
By a 3-1 vote, with Commissioner Mitchell Bartley opposed, the commissioners voted to extend the 10 percent charge to the entire bill, as opposed to only the first $60, which had been the case ever since the tax was first approved by the city commission on Jan. 13, 1989.
The move is expected to lead to a doubling of the revenue from this tax, from $100,000 to about $200,000.
The initial motion, requested by City Manager Ron Nalley, died for lack of a second. He then told commissioners that not extending the municipal public service tax would force an additional $100,000 in cuts to the general operating fund budget, and the commissioners revisited the motion.
“That’s a huge amount of money,” said Nalley. “We cut close to $200,000 just to get this balanced. I would say that’s going to be tough.”
Augusta West, director of the Community Redevelopment Agency, told commissioners “the vast majority” of Florida cities and counties have a flat 10 percent across-the-board rate.
A look at area cities indicates that Carrabelle has imposed the full 10 percent since Oct. 1971, and Port St. Joe since Aug. 1972; Wewahitchka levies 10 percent; and Wakulla County 7 percent.
Nalley said that customers will now pay on the full amount, so that with an average electricity bill of $100, taxes will go from $6 to $10.
“When you have to pay the extra you do learn to conserve,” said Commissioner Jimmy Elliott, describing how he encourages his children and grandchildren to shut off lights. “Sometimes you save money when you learn how to conserve.”