NEWS PRESS: When taxpayers pay, boards need to be "elected'

News Press: Written by Chauncey Goss. June 30, 2017.

As July 4th approaches, 241 years after our Founding Fathers declared our freedom from King George III, would you be surprised to learn that taxation without representation is alive and well right here in Florida? I made this point to the Constitutional Revision Commission when it visited Fort Myers in May with the expectation it will provide a remedy.

I believe, as did our founding fathers, that any person who has the authority to levy ad valorem taxes should be directly accountable to those paying the taxes. Unfortunately, in Florida, that’s not always the case. According to Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity, there are 20 special districts with ad valorem powers that have their board members appointed directly by the Governor and not chosen by the electorate.

In Florida, for the most part, we elect rather than appoint our friends and neighbors who can directly tax us. We vote for our county commissioners, as well as our city, town and village councils. We elect the leadership of a multitude of districts - whether it’s a fire protection district in Alva, a library district on Sanibel, an erosion prevention district on Captiva, a mosquito and hyacinth control district in Lee County, or our school board, we vote for these officials regardless of size or scope of power because we believe they need to be directly accountable to the electorate they serve.

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