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Jacked up: Palm Beach County commissioners vote 5-2 to hike property tax rate by 14.9 percent

by George Bennett | September 22nd, 2009

After casting a preliminary vote earlier this month to boost the countywide property tax rate from $3.78 per $1,000 of appraised value to $4.34, Palm Beach County commissioners made it official Monday night.

The vote for the 14.9 percent rate increase was 5-2, with Commissioners Steven Abrams and Shelley Vana opposed.

Click here to read an account by our Jennifer Sorentrue.

Abrams is on the ballot next year. So is Commissioner Priscilla Taylor, who supported the $4.34 rate. Commissioner Jess Santamaria, another supporter of the rate hike, is up for reelection next year but hasn’t announced whether he’ll run.

Question: Will the tax vote matter in any of the 2010 races?

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68 Responses to “Jacked up: Palm Beach County commissioners vote 5-2 to hike property tax rate by 14.9 percent”

  1. hum bug Says:

    Why don’t the commissoners take a pay cut and loose there car allowance that should help. No wait lets just raise the taxes and soon nobody will be left in the county except the county employees.

  2. tom Says:

    I think this is it for me. My house is going into forclosure, and I’m heading out of Florida. Time to start over…

  3. Jerry Dale Says:

    Burt Aaronson should be in Jail with the others

  4. Frank Says:

    I can’t wait to vote them out.

  5. Michelle Obama Says:

    Keep raising whities taxes, we need the cash for Acorn.

  6. geoff Says:

    vote the crooks out

  7. Rick Says:

    There were many other ways to keep the tax rate stable that the commissioners chose to ignore because of special interests.

    We The People Will Remember…And We The People Will Vote You Out!

  8. Corrupt Judges Says:

    Hey,How much do we get for for all the case fixing in the courthouse that goes on around here?Where are all those Feds when you need them?

  9. Jim Says:

    While I cut my bill to the bare bones my fees, taxes and insurance continue to rise.

    How can I be expected to balance my budget when our government simply prints more money… on MY dime!

    When will the flogging stop….when?

  10. Crooks with big money Says:

    Santamaria I guess you don’t mind all the empty homes in your neighborhood and thought it would be a good idea to have more empty homes!!

  11. Z Says:

    Question: Will the tax vote matter in any of the 2010 races?

    You are damn right it will matter. As more and more homeowners are underwater with their mortgages, these commissioners are raising taxes like if it’s nobody’s business.

    You know what we should do is A Freedom of Information request and see how much their financials are. We could check to see how much their homes are valued (Im sure they have a special deal with their lenders), How much property taxes they pay (Im sure they give theirselves tax credits up the *ss) and so on

  12. pissed off Says:

    Now not only will we have those whose home are going into foreclosure. We will also have those who will lose their homes to the county because they won’t be able to pay their tax bill.

    My home value went down this year but my taxes went up. NICE!!!!!!

    Who is in office now don’t plan on being their after your next run for election, you will be voted OUT!

  13. WPB Resident Says:

    In today’s newspaper there is an article detailing how the median household incomes fell 4 percent statewide in Florida, 3 percent in Miami-Dade, 5 percent in Palm Beach and 6 percent in Broward. With that in mind these commissioners voted and approved to raise the county’s taxes – what are they stupid!!!!!! They should be taking a pay cut. With a 5% drop in the PBC income they now hit the citizens with 14.9% increase, real smart….. Life in Palm Beach County is now going to become the worst ever… more empty houses which mean a further decline in property values because the banks are not keeping them up so the properties deteriorate. High homeless rates are going to become the norm.

  14. 8:44 is an amateur Says:

    To “Michelle Obama” at 8:44 AM

    This vote was horrible and the county commissioners should be held accountable. On an issue this toxic, why would you resort to racist attacks? It simply distracts from the issue which is on your side. It’s Messaging 101.

  15. Reuben Says:

    The political machine in Florida makes it impossible for anyone who is not financially secure (read: rich) to obtain public office. Consequently, our elected officials live in Never-Never Land, not appreciating the very serious pain that we as taxpayers are experiencing. I will absolutely vote against these people, at least the ones that I can vote against, since we no longer have at-large elections for the commissioners. I work in the Florida higher-education system; no one (except the top dogs) has received a pay increase in three years. (OK, 1% last year for some people. Not me.) My property taxes have gone up, even though my property values have gone down. Homeowners insurance is up, and will go higher. FPL wants an increase. My cell phone company is charging me $1.50 a month to send me a bill (!!!). Historically, such division between the haves in power and the have-nots who must suffer has led to revolution. Perhaps that’s what we need. Take our state back from the do-nothing lawmakers in Tallahassee and the county commission!

  16. robin banks Says:

    As for the comment by ” Michelle Obama”.Some people cant have any valuable input in a discussion unless they are causing friction because thats all they know to do. Its sad really.

  17. Sid Dinerstein Says:

    It’s lights out for Palm Beach County.
    An 11.3% Unemployment rate, one in every 154 homes in foreclosure, so who do our Commissioners take care of?
    The Wine and Cheese set (Cultural arts Council), the County employees (average wages and benefits: $92,000) and the close to zero dollar property tax payers at Kings point.
    You can’t make this stuff up.


  18. JM Says:

    To the editors at the palm beach post, do you bother to read the comments left by readers? And if so, why don’t you do an “acorn” on the corrupt WPB government officials, it would be a easy and might even win you back some of your lost readers.
    I live downtown and have put my apt on the market at a loss, if we can’t sell, we’ll try to rent, either way we are out of here, this place is a total failure because of the government’s corruption and mismanagement.

  19. Jay Says:

    Why is anyone surprised that if assessed/market values are down by a lot then a big increase in the tax rate is necessary to compensate? IMHO the RE tax system in PBC has been unfairly screwed up for years with non residents such as myself paying 4 times the taxes my neighbors paid on similar condo units, and I don’t use the services like schools. Now my taxes are finally going down with market values and I will only pay 3x what my neighbors pay. It’s insane.

  20. Salty Rooster Says:

    People, People. The horse is out of the barn!

    Term Limited Commissioners:
    Karen Marcus
    Burt Aaronson
    Jeff Koons

    Commissioners who have not annouced to re-elections efforts:
    Jess Santamaria

    This was an easy vote for the commission to pass because 3 are not accountable anymore, and 1 may not run. What incentive did they have NOT to raise taxes? Having no accountability to re-election gave the commission the ability not to make the tough desicion about taxes.

    Sorry everyone, you will not get the chance to throw the bums out, you missed you chances for the past 12 years.

  21. CROOKS Says:

    crooks, crooks….hope they all go to you-know-where…

  22. ray Says:

    A good part of the commies are going out on term limits. This is their parting gift and middle finger to the tax payers of Palm Beach county.

  23. johnny g Says:

    There are soooo many empty houses in my neighborhood! I cant believe these idiots raised our property tax! Do any of them have MBA’s in finance???????

  24. jennifer Says:

    Have you ever met Santamaria and Taylor in person? Not a brain between the two! The people running our local, state and national government are jokes, with no real business experience or savoy!!!!!!!!!!!!

  25. Kevin Says:

    While I don’t approciate the fact that my property tax rate is going up I do appriciate the fact that my actual tax bill is going down. This is because of the reduction in taxable value of the homes in the county. The commisioners are facing serious budget short falls in the coming years and somehow need to make some of it up. If they do not do this you can expect to see Police and fire fighters laid off as well as long lines at the court house ect. Stop with the negetive knee jerk reactions to everything that costs money and consider the alternatives. If you don’t want to pay your property taxes then don’t. Just sell all your holdings in the area and move to the mid west where it’s cheaper to live. You may die of boredom but at least you won’t have to pay so much.

  26. Henry PBCC Says:

    Maybe Palm Beach County should call in the real housing experts to help out……..ACORN!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The only houses that are selling in the entire county are short-sales!!!! These politicians are so corrupt!!!!!!!!!!!!

  27. Mike Says:

    What do they care, it’s everyone elses money they get to spend. SPEND SPEND SPEND!!!

  28. dan Says:

    looks like Karen Marcus will not get my vote when she runs again.

  29. ELC Says:

    You want to know the sad part of this
    story-the same idiots will be voted in
    again because the geriatric morans don’t
    know who they are voting for and vote
    the same crooks in everytime. As for the
    Commissioners-what I have to say is not
    printable. This Miss Taylor just came in
    as a replacement-lets see if she really
    gets voted in when her turn comes up-
    wizen up people-you vote for these low-
    lifes. Abrams and Vana are the only ones
    with back-bone-the rest should be thrown
    to the wolfs. Burt Aaronsen should have
    been voted out years ago-because of people like him there should be term

  30. Matt Says:

    I want good services (police, fire, parks, etc..) and services cost money. Property values are down so tax are down too. A rate increase is necessary to keep good services. I’m glad they voted for the increase.

  31. NATIVE Says:

    While I think this was a bad move to raise taxes. What could be worse is the next move of the voter. We continue (on the state and local levels) to promote and elevate people who are very self serving (Christ, McCollum,Klein, etc.) . We need fresh prespectives from people who live in our communities , WHO ARE NOT LAWYERS!!!!! I knew from the time Charlie Crist first ran for public office , that he wanted to work his way up the ladder and that he was less concerned with the people he actually represented and more concerned with his own career goals. Lets break the cycle.

  32. Susan Says:

    I always thought that the property taxes were based on the percentage of assessed value. If the homes are losing their value- how can they raise the taxes on something that’s LOSING value. Hmmmm- maybe because alot of people of losing or selling their homes, therefore there are no taxes being paid, so the ones that have managed to keep their homes are now carrying the burden of those who couldn’t? I think they call that taxation without representation.

  33. Steve Says:

    Where were all you cry babies when the county commisioners were deciding to raise the millage rate ? why did you not show up at the public budget hearings ? thats where you should have been telling them not to raise taxes, I suppose it is eaiser to bitch from your computer than get your lazy ass in to the budget hearing meeting and make a real differance when it would have counted.I am so tired of people wineing and they do nothing to really protest, and yes those that voted yes for an increase should be voted out if they are running !!!!!

  34. wpb resident Says:

    1.) Everyone wanted term limits and now everyone’s whining that the commissioners who voted “yes” are no longer accountable because they can no longer run for re-election – make up your minds.

    2.) The county’s millage rate (not the school board’s, not wpb’s, etc., which the county board does not control) went from 3.78 to 4.34 – which means that you’ll have to pay the county an extra 56 cents for each $1,000 of your homes value – meanwhile, how much lower are the appraised values of your homes? If you take the time to look at your tax bill, you’ll find that you’re paying less to the county this year than in years past, despite the increase in the millage rate.

    3.) If you want to pay less to the county, please let them know which services they provide to you that you can do without, like roads, for instance. Everyone wants to pay less and still continue to receive the same level of services that they’ve become accustomed to – and that is not reality.

  35. Noel Vazquez Says:

    Now that the Commies have voted. Can they tell us what the extra money is going to be used for? Taxing us now is Obama inspired. The only difference is that property values are down and now our taxes are going up. Jess is a wealthy man and he isn’t going to run next term. So he has nothing to lose, except the respect of those who put him in office.

  36. politicaldookie Says:

    All the scumbags that voted yes need to be voted out.

  37. Mary Says:

    Since I haven’t had a raise in 3 years and everything is going up, I surely do not expect to eat as well as I did nor dress as well as I did. My family can’t even afford to have “fun” so why would we expect same level of services from the the county? If we have to make do with less, why can’t the county?

  38. Kevin Says:

    This is just like the situation facing home owners associations everywhere suffering from dead beats and people who have fallen on tough times. If you neigbor doesent pay his fair share of the lawn maintenance bill, should the lawn maintenance guy work for less? Of course not. Should he not mow the grass in front of the house of the person not paying? If so, what about his neigbor that does pay. Should he have to suffers because of his neigbors problem? I know it sucks but we all have to pitch in and cover the difference. If we don’t then we can expect to see a deterioration of our infrastructure and additional losses in value. And for those of you who are not homesteaded and pay taxes based off the actual property value (myself included) stop whining about this. If you are prosperous enough to own two homes pay up and shut up.

  39. Charlie Says:

    Please stop publishing Jesse Santamaria’s HS picture…he looks & acts like an old man. He got elected because as a “businessman” he could cut costs & streamline operations. I’ll be voting for anybody but him, if I’m still in PBC. I can’t sell my home for two years, maybe the tax appraiser can buy it at the value he set…I’ll take it.

  40. ted Says:

    So everybody ,starting to like this REDISTRIBUTION of wealth? How did you think this was going to happen? This is how they legally take your money. Keep those “social” funds coming for the lazy, uneducated sponges who we are supporting! Maybe just maybe enough people will wake up and vote! Nahhhh
    not going to happen, all the lemmings will vote for who their condo commando tells them to.

  41. David Says:

    Way to destroy a recovery and force more distressed properties into our struggled market. These idiots spend every nickel of the swolen tax rolls when assessments and collections were through the roof during boom. Where are their sacrifices now? Lets see pay and budget cuts, not tax increases. Cut back like every individual must do you fat cats.

  42. wpb resident Says:

    Kevin is correct – and I would add that those who are homesteaded and reeped the benefit of Save Our Homes during the boom years have no room to whine either.

  43. David Says:

    Comments that the tax increase is to offset those who aren’t paying are obviously made by those who aren’t aware that this county (and all throughout FL) do not hold or carry their delinquent tax rolls – they are sold to the public each year by tax certificate sale. PBC’s sale was held June 1 this year and was a whopping success. Private investors make the county virtually whole by purchasing almost every single lien.

  44. Sam Says:

    At this point, the only issue that matters to me come voting time is whether the commissioners represented my interests or the interests of the gov employees. Those that represented my interests noted that in the worst recession ever they ought not to increase the millage rate or increase the amount of taxes collected and instead ought to cut the fat. The others voted to protect government employees fat salary and crazy overtime pay (there are tons of employees that make more in overtime than they do in regular pay) and generous pensions (retire after 20 years on full salary, plus we’ll count those heafty overtime pay) and double dippers (retire and collect a pension and come back and we’ll pay you too).

    Give me a break!! The real estate bubble has popped and therefore those hefty contracts and generous pensions based on the bubble need to be reworked!!!

  45. hotsweatyVIOLENTfedupinS.FLORIDAH Says:

    This place SUX.
    Burt arrogonson and mucus and the rest of the klan need to be investigated.

  46. Chester Says:

    Where was WEISS & HANDLER in this mix? Who lobbied for the tax hike and what do they have to gain? The County should have been saving money or lowering the tax rate when times were good. Instead they spent every penny that came in. Now when times are rough they say they have to raise taxes to make up for the reduction in home values. Guess what they’ll do when times are good again. You guessed it – they will spend all the money. Typical politicians. They consistently take our money and then give it back to us to buy our vote.

  47. fran Says:

    I’m so sick of taxes, insurance and everything else that’s gone up. The commissioners need to take a pay cut and not raise taxes. It’s very hard out
    here. And Miss Taylor whose is the new kid on the block – what does she care because she has her own successful business. Florida is for the wealthy and not the poor. How can people continue to live here with taxes, homeowner’s insurance, electricity, etc. going up? And they have the nerve to raise property taxes – unbelievable!

  48. Roadrunner Says:

    Kevin says, ” If you don’t want to pay your property taxes then don’t. Just sell all your holdings in the area and move to the mid west where it’s cheaper to live. You may die of boredom but at least you won’t have to pay so much. ”

    Hey Kevin,It’s MUCH cheaper to live in rural NC, where I have almost everything that you have in S. Fla., within an hour’s drive of my house… it’s the SAME Hour’s drive that I spent on my way to work in S. Fla, every day. And since my N C property taxes for my 3/1 1,200 sq. ft. house on a half acre are only $535.00 A YEAR, State Farm Homeowner’s Insurance is about $400.00 A YEAR, and gas prices around the corner from me are $ 2.16 a gallon with the 3 cent discount card, I can afford a lot more of those same Amenities that you refer to, in Charlotte, Asheville, and Greenville, SC, than if I continued to live in PB County.

    All 3 of those cities are within an hour’s drive of my house. I LOVE the Geico commercials, because they remind me that I pay $ 1,000.00 a year LESS for my car insurance, than I did in S. Fla.
    Kevin, you, and people with a mind set like your’s, might want to look up Forest City, N C, and realize how much, and in how many ways it COSTS you to live in PB County.

    By the way, I can be in the center of City Place, in about 10 hours. Your theory about having to live in the Mid West, to enjoy the quality lifestyle that I do, is pure fiction.

  49. PBC Resident Says:


  50. PBC Resident Says:


  51. zach c Says:

    what idiots. welcome to palm beach. raising property taxes in a huge recession. now that is what i call a great marketing plan for the area. makes ya feel great about living here, it was already high to begin with.

  52. darrell Says:

    Taylor and Santamaria.. you are fired!

  53. Fed Up Says:

    Our government officials are ignoring the “Sleeping Giant” in America. What our elected officials do not see is that the Tax-Paying public is on the verge of absolute revolt. There will be a time when we all just decide to walk away from all of our debts and pay nothing. Then we can get the free ride with the 40% of the lazy Liberals in this country. The revolution is brewing and it will begin when everyone just walks away. Great thing is that you can just walk away right now fromeverything and in 7 years start over in a clean slate. I saw for November and December Americans refuse to pay any mortgages, credit cards or any other debts and send a message of who is really in charge.

  54. Robert Katz Says:

    Almost everybody has a negative opinion about taxes. Many resort to disparaging epithets or repeat rumors or demand politician pay cuts (which won’t do much, if anything, to reduce taxes.
    Home values have gone down. The law passed to reduce home assessment included words to the effect that those having a homestead exemption would not pay less tax than the previous year, regardless of the new assessment.
    The media should be in the forefront of civic education. In addition to publishing columns ad infinitum about celebrities and politicians foibles, they should promote citizens’ quality of life. Knowing the turmoil created by taxation it might be a good idea for a survey to find out what public services citizens want cut or reduced to lower taxes. This could be a guide for those responsible for creating the millage rate and possibly reduce the intensity of the vitriolic triades.

  55. Me Says:

    Greedy jerks. Ill remember at election time.

  56. Topper Says:

    The two who voted no are a joke and they did to try to get reelected. We need to get rid of all of them and get people in there to clean house!

    How could our county budget have more than doubled in the past ten years when our population only increased by 15 percent during the same period?

  57. Phoenix Says:

    I’m with Tom. Out of Palm Beach County!

  58. Phoenix Says:

    I’m with Tom. Out of Palm Beach County! Taking my tax dollars with me.

  59. Eric Says:

    Voting for a tax increase in the worst recession since the great depression is political suicide. The next election will be very interesting.

  60. JB Says:

    It PAINs me as I am a born and raised West Palm Beach native Floridian to see the discusting way we are getting pushed out of OUR city ! How about that pay cut,car allowance , free trips etc….. Our schools are suffering, the city is full of crime (not just the city emloyees that voted for this),Police and Fire Dept cuts, what is EXACTLY going on here? I think its time to stand up, take OUR city back and vote these selfish jerks out! Way to go to push us farther back in debt and make yourselves all the more comfortable.

  61. Mr. Palm Beach Says:

    And budget cuts were not even on a proposal for a solution to the problem? The common blue collar working family cannot afford to live here anymore.

  62. Toney Says:

    I think taxes need to be equal based on the value of the property and not based on when you purchased your property. All new home owners are paying a premium tax bill compared to people who have owned their property longer. I say if the appraised value is equal, also should be the taxes.

  63. donny Says:

    It will push out the lower-lower-middle class. Where will they go?

    Pt St Lucie? Taxes are alot cheaper north.

    If the extra increase on your tax bill is to much then move to Martin County.

    It will also keep a higher class of citizens who can afford to live here.

  64. I-95 North Says:

    All you morons posting on here are probably in foreclosure anyway. New York transplants who bought 8 houses trying to flip them in the sunny south flawrida.. You weren’t complaining 5 years ago when you were at the county tax collectors office switching out your new york tags for a license plate with an orange on it. You clowns bought more than you can afford now your all complaining!!I-95 North, keep going!!!! You people are sooo stupid the property values and the taxes went down this year on average of $300.00 because all these wanna be jersey investors ruined it here..Because the tax roll is lower the millage had to be raised 1 dollar per 1,000.00 so most of you clowns (who pay taxes that is) should still be lower. Yes I agree things need to be cut back and many of these commissioners have been shady, but people like Santa Clause dont even take a salary, he donates all back (so he says anyway)..but raising the taxes is necessary, things were fine before you Northeastern’s came down here after selling your crappy ass condo for 5 x’s what it was worth and buying your Olympia house with two palm trees and a pool. You people ruined it!! now live with it or move away back to that smog village you came from..

  65. I-95 North Says:

    Hey Roadrunner:

    Oh ya its so great where you live you still read the Palm Beach Post??? Your probably a new yorker who came to PBC 10 years ago bought 4 houses then moved to NC? You probably tell your neighbors in NC how great you are and still have a yankees or jets sticker on your Lincoln? Its so great there you still read this paper on us a favor dont stop in NC, keep driving I-95 North and take a few of the loiterors from Mexico who jump in my truck at Home Depot with you…

  66. Wismick St Jean Says:

    I was embarrassed, disgusted, and dissappointed with Commissioner Taylor and Santamaria vote last night to say the least. I thought Commissioner Santamaria said it was in it for the people after all he said he did not need the commissioner salary; last night, it becomes obvious that he’s getting his salary from the lobbyist and the special interest; We now know once and for all where his loyalty lies! Commissioner Taylor is disgusting, the very people she represents are suffering the most from this economic slum instead of alleviating their pain and sorrow last night, she added to it; I hope she can sleep well at night with her conscience!

  67. JoAnne Says:

    Palm Beach County Commissioners are totally out of touch with the people whom they purport to represent. If the county had not decreased our property assessment values to such ridiculous low levels, it would not be necessary to even consider such a preposterous tax increase; i.e. the county’s proposed 2009 value of my home is 15% less that the appraisal I just received from my lender for refinancing purposes, and those of us in the real estate business know that lenders are low-balling appraisals to begin with. Shouldn’t our elected officials have some type of economic – financial acumen? Or is their mathematicaly ability limited to only increasing their own salaries? And for all you snobs who think it is a privilege to pay the high taxes required to live in Palm Beach County, why don’t you move to some European or Asian country where there is no middle class, just the poverty stricken and the elite. We do not need you here.

  68. steve Says:

    these guys will be remembered on election day..after getting fat over the past years of building. they couldnt wait to over spend our money on their roman empire projects which paded their pockets.and now they come back for more. what a joke! And im sorry to say 80% of the counties budget comes from the sheriffs dept..Its time we abandon these feel good policies like the officer take home your patrol car program which costs tax payers a fortune.As well as these community service cars rolling around..Lower taxes so our elderly can sit home and play mahjong and build bird houses

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