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Some Democrats buck their party on its support for 14.9 percent countywide property tax rate hike

by George Bennett | September 11th, 2009

Just because Palm Beach County’s Democratic Party gave its blessing to a 14.9 percent countywide property tax rate hike doesn’t mean all Democratic candidates are on board.

“A 15 percent increase in the tax rate is unconscionable in the kind of economy we’re in right now,” said state Rep. Mary Brandenburg, D-West Palm Beach, who’s running next year for the District 2 commission seat of term-limited Jeff Koons.

Brandenburg said commissioners should have “looked hard” at keeping the rate at this year’s level of $3.78 per $1,000 of appraised value rather than casting a preliminary vote Tuesday to jack it up to $4.34.

The Palm Beach County Democratic Executive Committee passed a resolution supporting the $4.34 rate and Democratic Committeewoman Bunny Steinman spoke in favor of it at Tuesday’s commission hearing. Commissioners voted 5-2 for the rate, with Democrat Shelley Vana and Republican Steven Abrams opposed. Vana and Abrams favored a $4.29 rate.

Brandenburg’s Democratic primary rival, school board member Paulette Burdick, also called the $4.34 rate excessive. She said she would have joined Abrams and Vana in supporting a $4.29 rate instead.

On the school board Wednesday, Burdick was the lone vote against hiking the school tax rate by 10 percent, from $7.25 to $7.98. Burdick said afterward she favored a $7.73 rate.

Elissa Pearl, the Democrat who has opened a campaign for the District 6 commission seat of Jess Santamaria, didn’t embrace the $4.34 rate but stopped short of criticizing it.

“If I were on the commission, I could only imagine what a tough vote this was. By representing District 6, my job will be to represent ALL of my constituents, and as a moderate, pro-business Democrat I would only consider a tax increase as an absolute LAST resort,” Pearl said in an e-mail.

District 6 commissioner Santamaria, a Democrat, hasn’t said whether he’ll run next year. Santamaria was part of the 5-2 majority supporting the 14.9 percent rate hike.

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2 Responses to “Some Democrats buck their party on its support for 14.9 percent countywide property tax rate hike”

  1. burning the public's money Says:

    Burning the Public’s money.

    Govt. is broken and run by corrupt people.

  2. ELC Says:

    It is absolutely disgusting how corrupt
    Palm Beach Commissioners really are. I am so happy to have become an Independent, because I am ashamed of the
    party I once supported.(Democrats). The
    Commissioners squandered the money they
    had when things were good-now they have
    their hands out for more now. They could
    easily make more cuts(library hours etc.), police benefits etc. and bring
    expenses down instead they are looking
    for handouts. When people start moving
    in droves-than they will be happy. I
    say we start voting these criminal
    commissioners for the board already.

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