Thursday night, April 10th, during a somewhat contentious meeting of the Republican Party in St Johns County, Chairman Sean Mulhall held a discussion on a motion to adopt a resolution of the Executive Committee supporting lower taxation and economic freedom.
Four of the county’s five Republican county commissioners attended the meeting; Rachael Bennett was absent. Mulhall agreed to yield the floor to Commissioner Cyndi Stevenson; a proponent of increasing the sales tax in St Johns County by one cent.
Stevenson’s arguments in favor of the sales tax increase fell on deaf ears. Some said that County Administrator, Michael Wanchick, will do as he has done every year — he will come up with some excuse why the millage rate has to be increased. Stevenson’s arguments supporting higher sales taxes would be referred to in a poker room as a “tell” — a clear signal of the commissioner’s intentions to raise during her next move.
Stevenson was interrupted by taxpayers in the audience who pressed her for an unequivocal, “yes” or “no” answer as to whether or not she would support the resolution. She refused to answer in those terms, but never backed off her position that the Party should not enter into any resolution that she says will be hard to enforce. At the conclusion of the discussion, a vote to adopt the resolution was approved, without opposition, following one minor amendment. Before the vote was taken, Stevenson left the meeting; obviously upset that her effort to persuade Party members was of no consequence.
Past chairman, Harlan Mason, who has served on the county’s Industrial Development Authority, said low taxation creates economic development, jobs, and higher wages for workers resulting in broad prosperity — essentially, the Holy Grail that will cure the financial problems Stevenson insists are at hand.
The resolution concludes that taxpayers have been recently burdened taxpayers with aggregate county millage rate increases in 2010 and 2012.
It was resolved that the Republican Executive Committee would strongly oppose any proposal for a sales tax rate increase or any further increase in the millage rate. The Party also supports a roll back of the property tax millage rate.
Mason will appear before the county commission at their meeting Tuesday to officially notify all the commissioners of the Party’s position.