Sebastian leaders reject county’s tax rebate ‘trial balloon’

SEBASTIAN – Sebastian city leaders have no intention of paying the county more than $128,000 they receive through sales tax revenues, they decided last week.

“This was more of a trial balloon than a real request,” Councilman Don Wright told his fellow council of his understanding of the request from County Budget Director Jason Brown. County Commissioners last year tasked Brown with asking the municipality, along with Fellsmere, Vero Beach and Orchid, if they would pay their share of the optional one-cent sale tax into the Emergency Services District.

Sebastian receives approximately $2.8 million in those revenues, which are used to finance the City Hall bond, buy new police cars, and make other capital improvement purchases.

The City of Fellsmere and the Town of Orchid had already turned down the county’ request by the time Sebastian’s city council met. The Vero Beach City Council is expected to discuss it at its meeting Tuesday night.

Wright told the Sebastian council that Brown did not expect the municipalities to agree to the request.

“I wouldn’t want to disappoint him,” Wright said of Brown.

Without a vote, the council directed City Manager Al Minner to send a letter to Brown formally informing the county of the city’s stance.

“A tax by any other name is still a tax,” Mayor Richard Gillmor said.

Last year, commissioners realized that the county was paying for the construction of new fire stations and buying new equipment and vehicles from its own optional one-cent sales tax.

Commissioners at the time felt it was not fair that the sales tax collected in the unincorporated parts of the county were paying for all the new stations and equipment.

Brown has said if the municipalities declined to pay into the emergency services fund through their sales tax revenues, the county would change the way it funds the capital projects within the Emergency Services District.

Instead of the county budgeting the work and purchases through its optional one-cent sales tax, it would use the district’s general fund. The general fund is funded through the county’s Emergency Services District millage rate, assessed on property taxes countywide – except for the Town of Indian River Shores, which has its own emergency services.

If that were the case, Brown said the county would have no immediate plans to increase the district’s millage rate to offset the capital funding.

Related Articles

Leave a Comment