Letters: Taxation for animal control should be fair
My husband and I live at the eastern edge of Carrabelle, about a block within the city limits. We also own a house used as an office which is on Timber Island Road on the west side of Carrabelle. Most properties on Timber Island Road are in the Carrabelle city limits, but our office property is "spot zoned" and not legally within the city. The county tax rate --the millage rate-- is the same on both properties. No one owning property within the city of Carrabelle pays any less in county taxes than those outside the city.
The proposed county rules on animal control create an absurd situation. If there is a stray dog that needs to be picked up at our office, it is a straightforward, routine animal control call. If there is a stray dog at our residence, Carrabelle police must be present for the entire time. This takes law enforcement away from more critical tasks, and I find it hard to believe that a stray dog on the east side of Carrabelle is more dangerous than on the west side.
If an animal control officer needs law enforcement on scene anywhere within the county, including in the cities of Carrabelle and Apalachicola, sheriff's deputies or police officers can respond to their request.
In addition to the burden on city police, the county is proposing to force city residents to pay an additional tax of thousands of dollars a year toward animal control. Make no mistake about it: It IS an additional tax. My city does not receive funds from anyone except city property owners such as myself.
There has been no data collected showing it costs more to address animal control concerns within Carrabelle than, for example, on St. George Island or in Lanark Village or Alligator Point, but those residents will not be forking over more tax dollars.
If the county must hire additional animal control staff during the middle of the budget year, it can be handled from contingency funds and then planned for properly in next year's budget. The county has the ability to amend its budget during a fiscal year. I understand that the additional staff will not be assigned exclusively to responses in the cities. Looking to some county taxpayers to foot the bill for services provided to the entire county is basically unfair.
I hope the four county commissioners who represent county taxpayers who reside within the cities will vote to reverse this ill-considered proposal.