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Trump budget cuts may force tax rates up, renters out

WPEC

Local leaders say state and local taxes will spike if President Trump's budget cuts to Housing and Urban Development (HUD) pass.

President Donald Trump's new $1.15 trillion federal budget calls for a $54 billion increase in defense spending.

CBS12 looks at how the cuts in many departments will impact you.

More than 71,000 people will be impacted in Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast when it comes to HUD. That is how many the federal agency says it aids in housing in the region.

If HUD funding is eliminated for maintenance and repairs, the property owners will likely pass the costs on to the renter. Data shows a third of these receiving assistance are elderly, and 51 percent have children.

The buildings that are home to hundreds in northwestern Fort Pierce are maintained by the Fort Pierce Housing Authority, with a large portion of the tab paid with federal funding.

"These are working poor. They need the assistance," said St. Lucie County Commissioner Chris Dzadovsky.

Dzadovsky says if the proposed Trump budget cuts to HUD pass, it will cost local and state governments more to maintain and house those who are forced out. The commissioner says it simply pushes the cost onto the State and local taxpayers.

But President Trump and many Republicans say these developments don't work- and become a way of life. The new Trump Budget Blueprint includes the elimination of many federal housing programs which assist the poor.

The Director of the Office of Management and Budget at the White House said Thursday these programs and $3 million in funding to help, “aren’t showing results.” The White House has yet to say if it will replace the programs with a new one.

Without the federal aid, the costs to renters may soon rise for the 71,000 in our region who depend on public housing assistance. Or, the developments may close down. For those who cannot afford a rent hike, Commissioner Dzadovsky says many will displaced from their homes, and it becomes a health and safety issue.

"Where are all these people supposed to go? They will be on the street." Dzadovsky said.

He fears already stretched State and local tax dollars may be forced to pick up the tab.

"The bottom line is it will all fall into local government and local taxpayers and I don’t think anybody wants that." Dzadovsky said.

President Trump's Budget Blueprint states Environmental Protection Agency resources will be slashed by a third.

In Stuart and along the Treasure Coast, that impacts dozens of grant-funded projects like oyster reef restoration, needed after the devastating toxic algae last summer.

“We deployed oysters this week,” said Capt. Fred Newhart, of the Schooner Lily. "It helps to filter the water. An oyster can filter over 45 gallons of water a day."

Captain Newhart is involved with the oyster project after he was forced to shut down last year from toxic algae. He fears more environmental budget cuts for research and restoration projects will be devastating for the water quality here.

"I think we need to keep those budgets where they are at least and also try to make sure we use that money in an appropriate way- not a reactionary way." Newhart said.

The restoration of the Indian River Lagoon South was promised $600,000 to restore the once-toxic waterways, with record dolphin and manatee deaths. If the Feds don’t pick up the tab, commissioners say it again will force the cost onto the State and local taxpayers.

"This was a situation which was quickly determined but not thought out. I hope the Congress will take a look at these budget cuts and come to some reasonable expectation." Dzadovsky said.

Captain Newhart says these cuts make him feel helpless. He already has a business plan for future toxic outbreaks.

"It might be a more frequent thing. I just have to face the facts." Newhart said.

Even Florida Republicans oppose these environmental cuts that impact Florida waterways.

US. Congressmen Brian Mast (FL-18) and Charlie Crist (FL-13) today sent the White House a letter today with 16 of their colleagues urging President Donald Trump to “join our efforts to expedite and energize the federal government’s role” in restoring the Everglades.


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