PREVENTING VICTIMIZATION AND PROVIDING A WAY FOR SENIORS TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE SAFETY OF ALL FLORIDIANS

Rev.01/11 Form SVC01
“The Seniors vs. Crime project does not offer or provide legal services or legal representation. Any response provided
Is not legal advice, is not a definite statement of the law, and is not a complete analysis of this area of inquiry.”







SVC Case File AL00395

June 2, 2014

Nicolle Shalley
Gainesville City Attorney
200 E. University Avenue, Suite 425
Gainesville, FL 32601
(352) 334-5011

Dear City Attorney Shalley:

Thank you for your reply dated May 28, 2014. This office is able to discuss factual research rather than
legal authority concerning any matter. To that end, we are more interested in the Public Service Tax
collected by GRU for the City of Gainesville rather than what is occurring elsewhere in Florida.

Your reply indicates the Gainesville municipal Public Service Tax is assessed by city ordinance against
the purchase of electricity in apparent compliance with controlling Florida statute 166.231(1). This, too,
is the statute relied upon and supplied to this office by our complainant.

Your reply also confirms Gainesville’s application of its municipal Public Service Tax extends beyond
the purchase of electricity. In addition, the Gainesville municipal Public Service Tax adds tax to a non-
electric power item – GRU’s Electric Customer Charge. You point out (p.3, para.5), “Our research
confirms that it is common practice throughout the State to apply the Public Service Tax to the customer
charge…”). I would submit that action and reliance simply upon a common practice seems insufficient
to add application of the Public Service Tax to items beyond the State’s legislative definition. Your reply
quotes Florida statute 166.231(1)(a) and (b) that in pertinent part defines a person’s “purchase of electric
power”; that being the consumption of “it” – and “it” being “power." The singular exemption of Public
Service Tax against a “fuel adjustment charge” may simply be due to its extremely close relationship to
consumption.

Your reply (pages 2 and 3) commingle the terms “…purchase in the city of electricity…”, “base rate” and
“utility service” regarding city ordinance and application of the Public Service Tax. This office is developing
a more simplistic working tool for potential use by others to better understand this issue. I have attached
a draft copy of this working tool/scenario and I would appreciate your input as it relates to the topic in
question. Our premise is that a common practice or a city ordinance cannot supersede a state law.

Thank you for your kind attention to these matters.

Sincerely,


John Caravella
SVC Office Manager
Pam Bondi Attorney General
Region Four
Alachua County Sheriff’s Office
PO Box 5489
Gainesville, FL 32627-5489
352- 367- 4023
A Special Project of the Florida Attorney General
1
SVC CASE FILE AL00395
HYPOTHETICAL SCENARIO

Scenario , Question:

\ou li·e in a municipality, in a motor home, which is connected to a municipal
electric meter. 1he municipality generates electricity íor its residents and you are
connected to its electric ser·ice and ha·e a meter írom the municipality. 1he
municipality charges a íee íor the meter e·en ií no electricity is purchased. \ou create
all your electricity by operating the motor home`s gasoline generator, thereíore, you
do not use or need municipal electricity. \our meter ne·er registers consumption.
\ou obtain water írom your pri·ate well so you do not purchase water ser·ice. \ou
do not ha·e cable tele·ision.

\our neighbor also has a motor home connected to its own municipal electric meter.
\our neighbor uses municipal electricity, thereíore, your neighbor`s meter registers
consumption. \our neighbor obtains water írom a pri·ate well and does not ha·e
cable tele·ision.


Public Tax rules –

(a) Your municipality levies a tax on the purchase of electricity.

The tax shall be levied only upon purchases within the municipality.

Purchase of electricity means the purchase of electric power by a person who will consume it
within the municipality.

(b) The tax imposed by paragraph (a) shall not be applied against any fuel adjustment charge,
and such charge shall be separately stated on each bill.

The term “fuel adjustment charge” means all increases in the cost of utility services to the
ultimate consumer resulting from an increase in the cost of fuel to the utility.

(c) The tax in paragraph (a) on water service may be applied outside municipal boundaries to
property included in a development if agreed to in writing by the developer of such property
and the municipality.


Who will pay any Public 1ax?


YOU YOUR NEIGHBOR
2
The 2013 Florida Statutes



166.231 Municipalities; public service tax.—
(1)(a) A municipality may levy a tax on the purchase of electricity, metered natural gas,
liquefied petroleum gas either metered or bottled, manufactured gas either metered or bottled,
and water service. Except for those municipalities in which paragraph (c) applies, the tax shall be
levied only upon purchases within the municipality and shall not exceed 10 percent of the
payments received by the seller of the taxable item from the purchaser for the purchase of such
service. Municipalities imposing a tax on the purchase of cable television service as of May 4,
1977, may continue to levy such tax to the extent necessary to meet all obligations to or for the
benefit of holders of bonds or certificates which were issued prior to May 4, 1977. Purchase of
electricity means the purchase of electric power by a person who will consume it within the
municipality.

(b) The tax imposed by paragraph (a) shall not be applied against any fuel adjustment charge,
and such charge shall be separately stated on each bill. The term “fuel adjustment charge” means
all increases in the cost of utility services to the ultimate consumer resulting from an increase in
the cost of fuel to the utility subsequent to October 1, 1973.

(c) The tax in paragraph (a) on water service may be applied outside municipal boundaries to
property included in a development of regional impact approved pursuant to s. 380.06, if agreed
to in writing by the developer of such property and the municipality prior to March 31, 2000. If a
tax levied pursuant to the subsection is challenged, recovery, if any, shall be limited to moneys
paid into an escrow account of the clerk of the court subsequent to such challenge.

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