Franklin County is Considering Alligator Point Annexing to Wakulla County

Franklin County Board of Commissioners are considering allowing Alligator Point and Bald Point annexation to Wakulla County on Wednesday, January 2, 2019

For the past several years we have been constantly working on solutions to our infrastructure and public service problems. Solutions that must be initiated and funded by Alligator Point property owners  because Franklin County has made it clear that they will not support solutions where they have to spend any money or effort.

It is apparent that many property owners are frustrated with the lack of effort and financial support from Franklin County Government on any kind of county government services; timely enforcement of the public parking ordinance, animal ordinance, ambulance service response times, backup wells for the water system, indifference to our requests for permits, their lack of ability to stop the financial losses at Weems Hospital, all emphasized by the full page add in the Tallahassee Democrat titled “Franklin Counties Forgotten Citizens, A Tale of Broken Promises & Abandonment by Government”

We find ourselves in the untenable situation for numerous reasons to be in a toxic relationship with Franklin County Government.

So, we decided to quietly investigate the possibility of having Alligator Point\Bald Point annexed from Franklin County to Wakulla County.

SEE THE FULL TEXT OF THE ALAN PIERCE ANNEXATION REPORT BELOW

Beginning on October 20, we contacted the Florida Legislature to determine if this was possible legislatively and if so, how. We then contacted officials in Wakulla County to determine their interest in annexing Alligator Point to Wakulla County. We recently communicated with the appropriate legislative offices and they are considering the possibility of moving forward on this issue.

We believe a majority of Alligator Point and Bald Point property owners support this unique approach to solve what appears to be a hopeless disconnect between property owners and Franklin County government.

While the repair of Alligator Drive is and has been a problem, it is not the only problem.

We believe annexation will provide a county government that at least listens to the Alligator Point and Bald Point and will provide improved ambulance service, law enforcement, better road maintenance, better everything.

As you can see below this issue will be on the Franklin County Commission agenda Wednesday, January 2, 2019 for discussion.

You may want to attend this meeting if you support annexation.

The following is the published report prepared by Alan Pierce the RESTORE Coordinator for the Franklin County Commission meeting on Wednesday, January 2, 2019

RESTORE Coordinator Report
Jan. 2, 2019

  1. Provide the Board with a copy of the profile for a proposed emergency beach berm for Alligator Drive that I have provided the FCMC Consulting. Using the profile recommended by our engineers, a berm 1300 feet long is estimated at costing $240,000 for the initial creation. There would be maintenance and monitoring costs in addition.The county considers this beach berm as temporary emergency work to protect the road, but I will defer to FCMC as to how it should be submitted to FEMA. A contractor would have to be employed to build this berm as the volume of sand needed, some 400 truckloads, is more than the county can haul. Attached is a copy of a FEMA approved profile for a beach berm. The attachment also shows how Hurricane Michael pushed back and flattened the shoreline.
    2. Right before the Christmas holidays, Commissioner Parrish received a phone call from Senator Montford regarding the annexing of Alligator Point into Wakulla County. As I understand it, Senator Montford said he would sponsor a bill if Franklin County wanted this to happen. As this was an item that needed some background research, Michael Moron asked me to provide an analysis. In generating this analysis, I have spoken to Dave Edwards, Wakulla County Administrator; Jim McCoy, APTA President who made the motion at the APTA meeting for this idea; Rhonda Skipper, Franklin County Property Appraiser; and the Supervisor of Elections Office. Ms. Skipper might be in attendance this morning to answer any questions. The initial action by APTA did not describe a boundary for the annexation so Mr. McCoy and I agreed on the proposed boundary. The boundary should follow some well established landmark. The boundary could shift if the Board so chose to move it, but the current proposed boundary includes the tax paying area Mr. McCoy wanted included, as well as the non-taxpaying Bald Point State Park, and some vacant land taxed at an agricultural rate. The boundary ends at Alligator Harbor but does not include Leonard’s Landing boat ramp. The exact boundary at the Harbor has not been defined. The attached document is the analysis that I created.

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An Analysis of the Impact of Alligator Point Annexing Into Wakulla County

As the Board is aware, the Alligator Point/St Teresa Taxpayers Association has made an inquiry if Alligator Point could be annexed into Wakulla County. For the purposes of this analysis, the proposed annexation boundary would be everything east of US 98 down to Alligator Harbor, and it would include all of Alligator Point. The central features that would move to Wakulla County would be Bald Point State Park, Bald Point residential area, Sun and Sand mobile home area, Alligator Point residential area, and then several thousand acres of agricultural land. A map is attached.

The following facts are presented to the Board for their consideration:
1. According to the Franklin County Property Appraiser, the area to be annexed has a current taxable value of approximately $90M, out of the county’s total tax base of $1.9B, based upon the 2018 certified tax roll. So, the annexed area represents about 5% of the county’s tax base. (However, remember that the county tax base is going to take a hit based upon the impact of Hurricane Michael. The Property Appraiser has not completed the assessment of hurricane damage, but it is possible that next year’s tax base will be smaller than this year’s, and therefore a $90M loss of taxable value from Alligator Point might end up being slightly more than 5% of the county’s tax base for 2019.)

  1. The county tax base generated some $12M in revenue this year. So, if the annexation moved forward the county would lose some $600K in tax revenue at the current milage rate. Approximately ½ of the tax revenues go to the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office. If the annexation goes through, the county budget would have to be reduced by at least 5% in order to avoid a tax increase on the remaining property. (And, next year is going to be a challenge because of the broad based impact Hurricane Michael had on the tax base.)
  2. The Franklin County School Board also receives tax revenue from Alligator Point so the School Board might have an opinion on the annexation. The School Board might be able to recoup their loss in tax revenue if the state would include Franklin County in the parity allocation approved by the legislature.
  3. Franklin County has a fire tax of $50 per residence, and $10 per vacant lot that goes to the Alligator Point Fire Dept. The funding and structure of the Alligator Point Fire Dept would be uncertain as Wakulla County has its own existing fire departments. Wakulla County has a higher fire tax assessment.
  4. The Alligator Point Fire Department responds to fires in St. Teresa, so it is unknown if the Alligator Point Fire Department would still respond to St. Teresa if they became part of Wakulla County, or if the fire response for St. Teresa would move to the Lanark Village and Carrabelle Fire Departments.
  5. The annexed area has about 200 rental units that contribute to the Franklin County TDC. These 200 units represent about 10% of the TDC tax collected here so there would be a reduction in TDC revenue by about 10%. Wakulla County also has a TDC, but it only has about 200 houses so the Wakulla County TDC could see a significant increase in their TDC by gaining 200 rental units on Alligator Point. The state DOR handles the disbursement of TDC funds so this division would be the responsibility of DOR.
  6. Franklin County does not have mandatory garbage or a fee for its collection, but Wakulla County does.
  7. According to the Franklin County Supervisor of Elections Office, the Alligator Point Precinct has 384 registered voters. While it is unclear if the Precinct line is the same as the proposed annexation area, if it is assumed that it is then Franklin County would lose 384 voters, and the county commission and school board district lines would have to be redrawn. If 384 votes were lost out of one district, the other four district lines would have to be adjusted to keep all things equal. Currently each district has approximately 1700 voters. If annexation were to occur, each district would shrink by some 78 voters. Wakulla County has a population of some 31,000 residents; almost triple the population of Franklin County, so the annexation of some 384 registered voters in Wakulla County might be insignificant to their district lines.
  8. If annexation were to occur, the service area of the Franklin County EMS would shrink as EMS calls on Alligator Point would be dispatched from the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office. EMS calls on Alligator Point would probably not come to Weems Hospital, but it would depend on the medical emergency.
  9. The Alligator Point Road, commonly known as County Road 370, or Alligator Drive, would become the property of Wakulla County. Since the road has suffered hurricane damage while it was in Franklin County, it is not clear who would be responsible for fixing the road if it was annexed into Wakulla County. But to give the Board an idea of the possible liability of the road, if the proposed repairs to Alligator Drive were $5M (and considering FEMA approved $2.6M for damages caused by Hurricane Hermine, a $5M cost for Michael is certainly possible), then the county’s local match of 12.5% of $5M would be $625K. Which county will be willing to allocate $625K of local funds to repair the road?
  10. The county currently spends an extra-ordinary share of Road Department budget maintaining Alligator Drive. The amount varies tremendously from year to year depending on the weather, so a base line cost is not currently available. The solution to the Alligator Point Road is still for the state to assume ownership, but at this time an annexation by Wakulla County would not move that issue forward.
  11. Alligator Point does not generate any gas tax revenue for Franklin County, as there are no gas stations in the proposed annexation area, so there would be no loss in gas tax revenue to the county if annexation occurred.
  12. Franklin County shares in a number of revenue streams from the state. Some of those revenue streams might go down because of a reduction in county population. The county finance office can provide a complete list of revenue sharing the county receives.
  13. There may be additional impacts that have not yet been considered.

Created by Alan C. Pierce, RESTORE Coordinator