By Steve Plunkett
Gulf Stream town leaders have abandoned hope of recovering any property taxes that residents of the annexed pocket are paying Palm Beach County for services they no longer receive.
At the town’s urging, County Commissioner Steven Abrams met with the county administrator, budget director and fire chief to get back some of the roughly $240,000 that pocket property owners paid for fire protection in fiscal 2011.
“Unfortunately, county administration maintains its position that Fire Rescue planned its operations based on a full year’s payment by the unincorporated area, and it was solely the town’s choice to change its provider prior to the end of the year,’’ Abrams wrote Mayor William Koch Jr.
“We just got taken,’’ Koch said as commissioners discussed the county’s response at their Dec. 10 meeting.
Gulf Stream absorbed the pocket, bordered by Sea Road, County Road, the St. Andrews Club and the ocean, almost midway through the fiscal year, and sought $19,469 to offset the extra amount Delray Beach billed the town following the March 15 annexation. Gulf Stream pays Delray Beach for fire-rescue protection.
Commissioners decided suing the county would cost more than the sum they were seeking and that an in-person appeal by Koch would not sway the full County Commission.
Gulf Stream also wanted $21,728 back from the Sheriff’s Office covering March 15 to Sept. 30. The county levied nearly $176,000 on the pocket to fund the sheriff.
Property taxes that were just collected again went to the county; the annexed pocket will not come onto Gulf Stream’s tax roll until fiscal 2013.
Abrams said county officials worried that a reimbursement could have financial repercussions in the future.
“I am told that when other municipalities have annexed land under similar circumstances there were no requests for reimbursements, and this would set an unacceptable precedent,’’ he wrote.
Property in the annexed area will add roughly $69 million to the town’s tax base.
By Steve Plunkett