They say Brooks' claim that taxes are flat is not true because hidden fees means residents will pay more. Democrats say the 800-page 2013 budget includes $40 million in "charge backs", which they say are fees for services. They say while Brooks claims to not be raising taxes, she is actually raising revenue by charging taxpayers in a different way.
This year's budget includes what Democrats are calling a $5.3 million "snow tax." Homeowners will pay a fee of $15 per $100,000 of assessed property value towards snow and ice removal on county roads. Last year, the money for that came from the county's general fund. Brooks claims she has kept the property rate at $8.99 for nine years, but Democrats say that is misleading.
"People are running campaigns and getting support as a result of that, which is blatant disrespect lie and deception to the people of Monroe County," Legislator Willie Lightfoot said.
"It's one of the reasons why in the past we've called for full-day budget hearings so we can have more opportunity to explore the budget," Legislator Carrie Andrews said. "It's one of the reasons why we prefer to have an exchange of dialogue in our committee meetings."
In a statement, County Spokesman Justin Feasel said "The 2013 Budget holds the property tax rate stable for a 9th consecutive year and protects vital funding for snow and ice removal. Instead of addressing the root cause, unfunded State mandates, Legislature Democrats are attacking the County's solution to best serve the traveling public while simultaneously protecting local taxpayers. Their partisan attacks ring especially hollow considering this is a group that votes against flat property taxes each and every year."