“There’s No Place Like Home”
As our Winter Residents prepare to come back, the Property Appraiser, Abe Skinner, also has prepared and sent out our TRIM (Truth in Millage) notices. For those residents up north it must be a relief to see OUR property taxes for Florida versus their tax bills. What a tremendous difference! Comparing Ohio vs. Florida, the taxes are so much lower in Florida, plus Ohio has county taxes, state taxes, and assorted other fees and taxes (according to my brother who lives in the Cleveland area). And on a personal note, as a comparison: The taxes in Ohio on a 2 Br. 2Ba small condo (and you don’t even own the land underneath) are half again as much as a 4BR 2BA house with a pool on a lot in Collier County. Ah, there’s no place like home!
On Marco we have wondered at times what the taxes we pay to the county are used for – which is a legitimate question. Where DOES our money go? Sure, we pay our share for the sheriff (who is required by law to protect the entire county whether we have our own police department or not), but what is that tax money used for?? So I asked the question! I wondered about all the extra expenses we would have to incur on our own as an Island if we didn’t split the costs county wide for the court systems, the bailiffs, the probation officers, the jail (we certainly don’t want to have our own jail on Marco), related jail expenses, sheriff’s helicopters, SWAT team, 911 emergency call system, and the lists goes on and on. If we had to pay for all those services ourselves, in my opinion we’d go broke. Then of course we have the EMS (Emergency Management System) and med-flights, and the Emergency Operations Center controlling all emergency movements including hurricanes, forest fires, etc. We also must consider the Medical Examiner in these expenses. Certainly we want all of these services distributed county wide among all tax payers. Then we have Pollution Control. Now what does that actually mean to Marco, I asked? My answer was: hazardous waste compliance assistance, regulated storage tank compliance inspections, compliant investigations and reporting regarding algae blooms, petro fish kills, abandoned drums, etc., water quality analysis for the City of Marco, Red Tide analysis and results when necessary, notification in the event that material/waste is released in the vicinity of the Marco Lakes reservoir (at the corner of 951/U.S. 41 – our water supply). Pollution Control has many functions that do not occur to us.
Also located under “county” on your TRIM notice, but not specifically mentioned are the other constitutional officers (Sheriff being the one we’ve already discussed here) Tax Collector, Property Appraiser, Clerk of Courts and Supervisor of Elections, who serve all the taxpayers of Collier County. And then there is Growth Management. I asked how can Marco ever benefit from the county’s growth management? I never thought about the road system! Marco residents need these roads whether going to the Phil, the Playhouse, to other museums, to I-75, to Costco’s, or wherever we are going, and we want these roads maintained for our safety, for our evacuation and for convenience. The County returns $1 million to Marco each year to use on OUR road system. The County also works together with Marco to apply for State grants and Federal grants for many things including our roads, sidewalks and bridges. Public Services comes under the County Manager’s calculations, which include South Beach and Tigertail, the Marco Library and the Marco Island Museum.
Mosquito Control and South Florida Water Management District are under separate taxing authorities on your tax bill. Nearly half of our tax bill goes to the School Board, plus we have the voter approved expense for Conservation Collier Land Acquisition.
How lucky we are to work cooperatively between Marco Island and the County because it saves us all money, rather than paying for all these services on our own.
I hope I’ve explained these clearly enough in the limited space I have to clear up some of our questions.