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Political Debates
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Ben, Regan and Jill Brandon
 
I’m Ben Brandon, and I want to represent you as the Dade County District 3 commissioner. Although District 3 is the South Dade seat, all registered Dade County voters may cast a vote on Nov. 4 in this race.

I grew up in Dade County. When I left corporate America 20 years ago, I chose to return here and make it my home. I now live in Rising Fawn with my wife, Jill, and daughter, Regan. My father was the late Floyd Brandon, and my mom, Wanda Brandon, still lives in my childhood home in Trenton. My brother, Ed, and his wife, Deena, live down the street from her. For nearly 20 years, we have attended Trenton First Baptist church, where my family has been members since 1933.

You may remember that I held the office of County Executive from 2005-2008, immediately after we adopted a new form of local government. While in office, I authored and promoted passage of the 65/5 senior tax exemption that brought real tax relief to Dade County taxpayers and continues to do so today. After serving my term, I did not run for reelection.

Since leaving office in 2008, and before the recent public hearing on the proposed 44 percent tax increase, I appeared at a county commission meeting only to speak up and defend the 65/5 senior tax exemption, when it recently came under attack. As the author of the bill that put the issue on the ballot, I felt obligated to mount a defense of tax relief, especially for those on fixed incomes, when it appeared the Dade County commission would not take a stand. This was especially important because if the senior tax exemption falls, other property tax exemptions that provide tax relief to broader groups may also be challenged.

After learning about the huge proposed property tax increase, I was urged by several taxpayers to run for the District 3 office. They were concerned that taxpayers in Dade County had no firm voice on the commission. Because of my record, they knew I would be able to monitor the financial condition of the county and would not hesitate to speak up in order to head off a catastrophe such as the one we are facing now. As we learned last Thursday, there was no plan in place to manage the budget crisis, although the commissioners admitted that it developed over a period of three years. “A 44 percent tax increase does not sneak up on you”; it was completely avoidable.

To help citizens better understand the county budgeting process, I am hosting a “County Budgeting 101” seminar on Thursday, Aug. 7 at 6 p.m., in the Trenton Civic Center. We will discuss the services that the county must provide by law versus those that are optional. In addition, we will conduct a prioritization exercise to identify the services ordinary citizens would cut first if they were constructing a budget. Finally, we will review the most recent county budget proposal and present some “what if” scenarios to determine how the budget can be cut and understand the impact of the cuts. This effort in no way binds the commission to adopt any suggestions we offer, but it will give anyone who’s ever asked the question “what do they do with my tax money” a much better idea of what happens to the funds collected by the local government. All concerned citizens, and even elected officials, are welcome to attend, although this is strictly a citizen participation exercise. The politicians have given us their view of the budget. What’s yours?

I look forward to speaking with as many Dade County residents as possible during the next three months. If you would like to discuss a specific issue, please feel free to call me at (423) 580–4111 or email me at brandon4dade@gmail.com.

Visitor Comments
 
Submitted By: rex blevins Submitted: 8/6/2014
ben has no idea what he did to our school system when he promised to get 65/5 acres on the ballot. we now have 1700 people signed up. This cost the school system over a million dollars tax loss that has to be passed on to younger tax payers. I know he will say school taxes are to high anyway so who cares if they don't have enough money. he was the county executive in title only and he chose to screw the school system to get elected.




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