Amendment I passes: What will it cost you? - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Amendment I passes: What will it cost you?

Reporter: Stephanie Dukes

The voters have spoken, and now the fallout begins. Amendment I passes meaning property tax cuts are on the way, but will it end up costing you in the long run?

Whether it's fighting fires, keeping the streets safe, repairing utilities or maintaining parks, funding for local services comes almost entirely from one source - property taxes.

Palm Beach Gardens Mayor Joe Russo says his city is already working around a $2.7 million shortfall from last year. "This year, from the preliminary numbers, we're looking at $2 million, so when you have $2.7 [million], then you put $2 million. Everything we could eliminate, we eliminated last year. This is going to be a little more painful."

Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue will feel much of the pain. The department is postponing the entry of new candidates into the academy and many vacant positions will remain unfilled. "I don't want to hire people, and then a year later lay them off," says Chief Herman Brice.

County Commissioners have the power to override certain requirements of the Amendment, so property owners would still pay the same taxes. Local leaders could raise so-called "user fees" for different public services. "I don't think it's fair to lower taxes then raise a fee unreasonably. If it's reasonable to raise a few, you raise a fee," says West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel.

She says once budget time rolls around, citizens will be asked which services they want to cutback and which they can live without. "We're gonna put out those choices and let our constituents see, and, then, I expect the city council will be responsive."

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