INDIAN ROCKS BEACH - Death and taxes are both inevitable, as the old saying goes. But something can be done about taxes, a subject which is the preoccupation of Florida right now.
Taxes get attention because everyone is affected. And there are some suggestions, the latest of which came out of Tallahassee last week.
On the local front there are suggestions, too, from Mayor Bill Ockunzzi who seems rather over-qualified for his current job.
Ockunzzi knows government, is a good thinker and often comes up the ideas that are worth thinking about. Taxes, and how they relate to his city, are a familiar theme with him.
Marco Rubio, the House speaker, floated the proposal last week that would increase the homestead exemption enormously and eschew any increase in the sales tax.
Rubio is one of the recipients of a letter dispatched by Ockunzzi last month. The others are Charlie Crist, the governor, and Ken Pruitt, president of the Senate.
After striking the chord that in Pinellas County the beach communities make up about 3.5 percent of the county population but pay more than 12 percent of the county's ad valorem revenues, Ockunzzi points out that his city has reduced the millage rate by 40 percent since 2004.
He goes on, in the four page letter dated April 17, that the idea is not to find ways to get more tax money in spenders' hands but to slow down the spending.
"You must enact legislation to control the appetite of the counties for more and more ad valorem revenue," Ockunzzi wrote in his letter.
He emphasized that point with this - "Recent experience has shown that the larger governmental entities have little appetite for fiscal discipline, or a more equitable distribution of revenues especially to smaller cities."
Governments in Florida collecting ad valorem taxes have benefitted from the zooming increases in property values that have now fallen off drastically.
When the boom times were on, cities didn't even have to raise millage rates because windfalls of big bucks would come their way from increased valuations.
And homes that were sold to new owners had their valuations jacked up to near market rates, avoiding the 3 percent cap. City officials chortled and rubbed their hands with glee as homes in their cities were sold because they knew increased money would roll in.
Now reckoning time has come. People, pressed with increased insurance rates (unfairly so in Pinellas County where hurricanes almost never visit), are squawking about taxes.
Ockunzzi's plea to the three top elected officials in the state boiled down to this - "Please focus on reducing and controlling the future ad valorem taxes and revenue."
And, by all means, avoid any notion of an income tax, Ockunzzi wrote. "Any idea of authorizing or seeking voter approval of an income tax should be abandoned. Curing a tax problem with a new tax is folly."
With Rubio's stated idea last week to expand homestead exemptions by as much as 80 percent of a home's value might draw a smile from Ockunzzi.
If something like that came into existence, it could cut the average tax bill in half or more.
But that might come under the heading of too good to be true.
State lawmakers will be meeting Monday again on the questions and also on June 4.
Ockunzzi's voice is undoubtedly one that will be heard.