Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.
Correction: After publication, Florida Politics was informed that Wakulla County Commission Chair Ralph Thomas missed Monday’s Commission hearing because he and his wife, Cissy, have COVID-19 and are at home in isolation. We regret the error.
One of the reddest counties in the state just did something rather blue — or at least something Republicans warn voters that Democrats will do every election cycle.
On Monday evening, the Wakulla County Commission voted for across-the-board tax increases. The rural county home to fewer than 35,000 OK’d a property tax hike, a public service tax increase, and a bump to the sewer and garbage service fees.
The county fire assessment fee will soon be half-again higher, too.
Those of us who enjoy living in a functioning society know taxes are a necessary evil. Yet, for a county that went for Donald Trump by 40 points last year, you’d expect the Commission to reject a sweeping tax increase soundly.
Ironically, Wakulla often markets itself as a low-tax haven from its liberal tax-and-spend neighbor, Leon. But when push came to shove, the Commission caved.
We’re sure it’s for a good reason and that Commission Chair Ralph Thomas, who is also the current President of the Florida Association of Counties, will be able to provide a thorough explanation (and defense) of the tax hikes.
It would be nice if he could have done that Monday night, but he was too busy to attend the meeting.
Now, the Wakulla Commission’s decision isn’t necessarily a harbinger of things to come elsewhere in the state. This county is neither a trendsetter nor a canary in the coal mine — what happens there often stays there.
Wakulla will remain a Republican stronghold in an increasingly red state, too.
But this is how a 40-point landslide gets shaved down to a 35- or 30-point one. In other words, it could be the first nick in a proverbial death by a thousand cuts for the GOP’s thin but heretofore growing statewide advantage.
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