2012 FLORIDA ASSOCIATION OF COUNTIES POLICY CONFERENCE REPORT Prepared by the Alachua County Manager’s Communications Office
Main Issue Summary
2012 FLORIDA ASSOCIATION OF COUNTIES (FAC) POLICY CONFERENCE REPORT Main Issue Summary The 2012-2013 FAC Policy Conference was held on September 19-21 in St. Petersburg Beach, Pinellas County. This event brought together the FAC Legislative Policy Committees to examine the Association's agenda for the next legislative session. 4 major issues stood out: 1. 2. 3. 4.
Medicaid Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) Amendment 4 2012 Legislative Conference in November
1. Medicaid Because of an immense, statewide lobbying effort coordinated by FAC, the retrospective statewide Medicaid backlog bill was reduced from $373 million to $143 million This is a statewide savings of $188 million. Alachua County’s original backlog as of March 2012 was $14,602,803.87. The August 2012 Final Certification was $6.5 million. This represents a savings to Alachua County taxpayers of over $8 million. The 15% reduction for accepting the Final Certification represents another $941,074 in savings for total payments of $5.3 million Backlog Certification Comparison FAC acknowledges that the efforts of Alachua County’s commission, staff, and legislative delegation made us the “go to” County in this effort. The topic of discussion at the 2012 Policy Conference concerning Medicaid was looking to the future. Many options were discussed. It was decided to move forward with the development of a plan to move the counties out of the Medicaid business. FAC staff was charged with developing a plan that would identify the fair Medicaid payment owed by Florida counties, each county’s individual fair share, and identify a revenue source, such as portion of State revenue sharing dollars, that would be dedicated to the state. Once the revenue is in place, the counties would be out of Medicaid. No more bills, no more administrative costs, no more disputes. The challenge is coming up with an acceptable proportional share of costs for each county. Several initial ideas were discussed including a “snapshot in time” formula that determines how many Medicaid recipients reside in each county and using that number 1
to set the baseline. The criticism of this method centered on the idea that the same flawed system that gave us the billing nightmare would be used to establish this baseline. Some of the information on the FAC link below is dated but it provides a great deal of information on this issue. FAC Medicaid Website
2. Department of Juvenile Justice Counties are in a cost sharing relationship with the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), but have no input on how secure detention is administered. Thus, counties role in juvenile detention is strictly financial. Counties pay for any youth held in secure detention that is:
Waiting for their case to be disposed of Charged with violation of probation On violation of a court order, including Failure to Appears (FTA)
The state's share of secure detention is limited to youth who:
Have been "committed" to the Department for treatment Are on "conditional release" status with the court
The original cost shift legislation passed in 2004, at which point non-fiscally constrained counties became the primary revenue source for the state’s juvenile detention facilities. In theory the breakdown was simple: counties would pay for juvenile offenders before trial and the state would pay for juvenile offenders after their case has been resolved. However, the actual implementation is far from a simple process. The non-fiscally constrained counties are billed monthly based on the Department’s estimates of how many “predisposition days” youth from each county will spend in detention. Disputes occur quarterly, and are only permitted based on the youth’s address and actual county of residence. Counties never receive money back when errors are discovered, but rather a credit for their next monthly payment. Since the initial stage of this cost-share experiment, counties have been unable to accurately predict their budgets due to the timeliness of the dispute resolution process, called reconciliation. In fact, each year when the reconciliation is complete some counties receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in bills, and others may receive credits for their next billing cycle. This billing process makes counties ability to plan for such expenditures extremely difficult.
DJJ posts all correspondence and data regarding the detention cost share on their website. Department of Juvenile Justice website The dispute over DJJ billing has a familiar ring to it. Back when this unfunded mandate was handed down to the counties, the statute clearly stated that counties would be responsible for pre-disposition charges and the state would pay the post-disposition charges. Two recent DOAH rulings have held that the way DJJ is determining the counties’ share of costs for detention is contrary to the plain letter of the law. RECENT DOAH DECISIONS ON DJJ COUNTY/STATE COST SHARE In light of the rulings, it is expected that the current county/state funding model will be a hot topic in the 2013 session. As a result, the 2012 Policy Meeting workshop discussed ideas on how we can improve upon or entirely change the county/state funding model. All interested stakeholders with working knowledge on the issues are invited to participate in this ongoing discussion. Some of the options discussed included:
Per diem system with annual reconciliation of actual costs Eliminate billing system & implement new methodology Counties assume responsibility for secure detention State reassumes responsibility for secure detention/ county investment in front end alternatives
3. Amendment 4 The 2012 November elections are quickly approaching and it is the FAC position that Amendment 4 must be defeated. FAC is asking all counties to assist in defeating this amendment by asking Commissioners to actively work against it. Manager Drummond is waiting on direction from the Board before instructing Communications to participate in these efforts. Amendment 4 background – In 2011, the Florida Legislature passed an Amendment to be considered by Florida voters. Amendment 4 will now appear on the November 2012 ballot. Amendment 4 is estimated to impact Florida's local communities by $1.7 billion over four years. It is FAC’s position that this amendment will not only shift the tax burden to our year round residents but also takes home rule authority away from our local communities and that these impacts will come at a time when counties are struggling to maintain services and staffing levels. Furthermore, FAC feels that Tallahassee is deciding the best tax policy for citizens from Pensacola to Miami with a one size fits all strategy and it is FAC’s position that the citizens in Florida's 67 counties
should be free determine the best way to provide services as well as the services provided. Amendment 4 Ballot Language The impacts: 1. For homestead properties, the proposed amendment allows the legislature by general law to prohibit an increase in the tax assessment of the homestead if the just value is less than the just value assessed the prior year, except in cases where there were changes, additions, reductions, or improvements to the property. 2. For non-homestead properties, the proposed constitutional amendment limits the annual assessment increase in a year to five (5) percent (rather than 10 percent) on non-homesteaded property. The change also allows the legislature by general law to prohibit an increase in the assessment of the non-homestead property if the just value is less than the just value assessed the prior year. 3. The third component allows for an additional homestead tax exemption under the conditions that the owner is entitled to the homestead exemption within one year of the property purchase, has not owned property in the three (3) previous calendar years, and has not received a homestead exemption. The additional exemption is applied to all taxing units except for school district tax levies. Data: County by County Fiscal Impacts of Amendment 4 Should the Board choose to join the effort in defeating Amendment 4 options include:
Running the PSA below on county TV channels and on line: A Break for Them, a Bill for Us
Publicizing the FAC Amendment 4 website: Tax Breaks 4 Snowbirds
Pass an resolution declaring your opposition to Amendment 4 Draft Resolution
Other Amendment 4 for materials on the FAC website include:
Why Amendment 4 hurts Florida Editorial by Comm Welton Cadwell: Amendment 4 hurts Florida's residents Draft Citizen Letter - Explain to your constituents your concerns on Amendment 4 CBPP Study: Florida's Amendment 4 would cause tax rate increases and deep local service cuts 2010 Tax Watch Study: When Good Policies Go Bad - Unintended Consequences of Assessment Caps 4
Data: Summary of Amendment 4 Impacts Methodology summary in calculating data
4. FAC 2012-13 Legislative Conference Sarasota County November 28-30, 2012 The FAC 2012 Legislative Conference is the final opportunity for the membership and Legislative Policy Committees to meet and voice their opinion on the policies FAC lobbies during the legislative session. On the final day, commissioners vote and adopt the final FAC policies.