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How some Tallahassee leaders say raising taxes will cut down on violent crime

Tallahassee Police have worked 12 homicides as of Aug 14, 2023
GOADPROPERTYTAX
Posted at 6:24 PM, Aug 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-15 18:29:20-04
  • City of Tallahassee is looking to raise TPD's budget by $9.5 million by increasing property taxes.
  • That money will bring 20 officers, new equipment and technology to TPD in 2024.
  • We're breaking down the costs for you in the video above.

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

Tracking gun violence in Tallahassee. Some city leaders say a tax increase could help stop the danger.

"As heartbreaking as the violence has been, it's the reason we're making this recommendation," said Reese Goad.

It's violence that hurt two people at the gas station off Apalachee Parkway in Southeast Tallahassee just last month.

While that proposed tax increase is supposed to help police do their job, area businesses owners tell me that can't be the only solution.

"It's a tough conversation."

That's Don May.

"We just think it's important for all folks to be at the table to have their voices heard and learn more about the process," said May.

He's President of the Network of Entrepreneurs & Business Advocates and one of the many Tallahassee business and home owners concerned about public safety.

The City of Tallahassee is looking at a $9.5 million dollar budget increase for Tallahassee Police Department. But people like May said they don't want property taxes to pay for that.

"Every small business lives off of the difference between what they take in and what they spend and every additional tax pinches that tighter and tighter," said May.

If approved, the money would help hire 20 new officers, equipment and technology.

$5.2 million would come from an increased property tax rate, if approved. That change inspired May to host a community discussion between Tallahassee businesses and City Manager Reese Goad.

Goad said he's doing what he can with the general fund budget to maintain the quality of life while making investments to reduce violent crimes.

"It needs to be in law enforcement and so we'll hold the line in terms of output, we'll absorb those inflationary costs and do more with less, but we won't dial it back to the point where we do less, we maintain our roads less or maintain our parks less," said Goad.

We checked with TPD. As of August 1st, there have been 11 homicides in Tallahassee this year. The department has 373 officers; just over half of the 650 officers the department should have based on an FBI formula.

Department leaders say the increased budget would help chip away at that problem.

To do this, Goad said the millage rate will increase from 4.2 to 4.5; costing the average homeowner less than $3.50 a month. It's a price he and other city leaders said is worth it to increase public safety.

"To make sure we have an adequate amount of law enforcement and we're properly addressing these issues," said Goad.

Issues that May said he hopes can be solved soon.

"This happens every year that the budget is discussed, so this will be an ongoing process and we want to be at the table for sure," said May.

Goad said the budget will be finalized at the final workshop hearing set for September 27th. It'll then go into effect on October 1st.