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Palm Coast City Council Devolves Into Screaming Match Over Taxes, Budget

Council members Ed Danko and John Fanelli. ⓒ AskFlagler

PALM COAST – The Palm Coast City Council showed a flash of its 2021 self Tuesday night, when a discussion about proposed property tax rates and budget spending devolved into personal rebukes and raised voices.

Following a public comment period of almost two hours with dozens of participants, uniformly against any form of tax increase, Council members Eddie Branquinho and Ed Danko engaged in a debate over spending that exploded within minutes. Mayor David Alfin attempted to restore order with his gavel authority, but was largely disregarded by Danko, who shouted over Alfin to respond to Branquinho putting him on the spot.


Mayor David Alfin and Councilman Eddie Branquinho. ⓒ AskFlagler

Some background on the issue: the Council sits at an unofficial 4-1 majority to keep property taxes static from the previous fiscal year; due to appreciation in property values this would result in a modest tax increase for homestead owners, and a steeper one for non-homestead property owners. Councilman Danko postured himself as the lone member who advocated for rolling back the millage rate to an amount that would cancel out this increase, following through on a campaign promise that he’d ‘rather drink antifreeze’ than vote for a tax increase. The faltering in Danko’s efforts to stymie the increase has been his inability so far to persuade another two Council members to join him and form a majority.

After public comments concluded, each Council member gave their response to the overwhelming public consensus against the estimated effectively 15% tax hike. Councilman Nick Klufas challenged his colleagues to identify specific areas they’d advocate for a cut; he himself proposed delaying a proposed survey on saltwater canal dredging which he judged didn’t benefit enough residents to warrant it. “Do we have a small violin for that?” he asked, to surprised chuckles from the audience.

Branquinho rhetorically suggested the Council cancel an approved salary increase for itself, effective after this year’s elections. He even put it to a motion at one point, demonstrating his point that no other Council members supported doing so as a way of offsetting the lost revenue of a rollback rate.

He then invoked the retirement benefits of the Palm Coast Fire Department, several employees of which were present in the Council chambers. “I challenge Councilman Danko to [come after their pay],” Branquinho said. Danko responded with fire.

“Why would you challenge me to do that?”, Danko shot back. Alfin began to try and rein in the pair, but it was too late. “I’ve just been called out and I’m gonna answer,” he said to Alfin. “No you’re not,” the Mayor responded, to little avail. “How dare you?! You stormed out of this room months ago and you vanished, threw a hissy fit, and then you come back and lecture us? Why don’t you get on a plane and go back to Portugal?”

ⓒ AskFlagler

Danko invoked Branquinho’s Portuguese heritage at the end of his remarks, to muffled gasps from the audience. A few then clapped and laughed. The comment was also taken by some to be racially-charged, and it invoked a previous argument between the two in which Danko had told Branquinho to “go back to Jersey where you can be a Democrat again”. That exchange took place exactly one year ago as of Wednesday, and relations between the two had shown signs of improvement since then.

It was also the second time Danko had raised eyebrows just within the afternoon; earlier in the day he came under fire for a campaign video he’d helped make for friend and City Council candidate Alan Lowe. Danko allegedly used his city government credentials to get Lowe inside City Hall, where the pair shot the video using the public comment podium and with the city logo in the background.

The millage rate itself was not set on Tuesday night; that will be decided at a special Council meeting on Thursday at 5:15 pm. Branquinho’s term on the City Council ends when after this November’s elections; he chose not to run for a second four-year term. Danko’s first term expires in 2024, and he’ll have the opportunity to run for a second.

Approached after the meeting concluded, Danko declined to comment further on his exchange with Branquinho. In speaking about his efforts to enact the rolled back millage rate, he stressed the policies of the Joe Biden administration as the reason for higher costs, and reiterated his desire to prevent a tax increase from being levied onto residents. “All I want is one year of a rollback,” he said. “One year where we just don’t spend any more money.”

Written By

Chris Gollon is a Flagler County resident since 2004, as well as a staple of the local independent music scene and avid observer of Central Florida politics, arts, and recreation.



  1. Gary Kahler

    September 7, 2022 at 5:10 am

    All these people need voted out of office. They do not represent those who elected them. Taxation without representation. Their answer to everything seems to be a tax increase. They did the same when they voted big pay raises for themselves. Here’s an idea! Let’s look at how we can save the city money and stop spending money you don’t have. Stop driving business away from Palm Coast and instead do something to attract retail business, manufacturing, service industries, etc. They only have the interest of themselves, and none for the residents of Palm Coast. Everyone of them are worthless!

  2. Carol Anelli

    September 7, 2022 at 7:22 am

    The pay raises should be canceled, every one deserves a raise, but this amount is ridiculous, should be voted on by the people that live here, not by the person(s) getting the raise, put the request on a ballot

  3. Charles

    September 7, 2022 at 8:19 am

    As a Republican and personally know this person, I can safely say the following: Ed Danko is a disgrace to mankind. A true loser, who cheated on his spouses, cheated any friends he might of had, ruined another’s marriage and has brought shame to our city. He drinks too much and has a Napoleon complex. Delusional human and now Lowe is too.

  4. TR

    September 7, 2022 at 9:33 pm

    More proof that this city council doesn’t care what the people of this city want. They are need to be removed from office starting with Alfin who is really out of touch with reality. this kind of behavior can not go on for much longer before the citizens with revolt.

  5. Mr. jay

    September 8, 2022 at 8:48 am

    let’s make a clean sweep,dump them all, in 20 years after the are all gone they will leave us with the mess they created,Alvin, build more houses, of course he is in real estate, he does not care about anybody but himself more houses, more traffic and congestion. DUMP. THEM. ALL, THEY. DONT CARE ABOUT ANYBODY . NO RAISE FOR THEM, NO NOTHING.

  6. Nuck

    September 9, 2022 at 7:22 am

    Loved “
    Palm coast community
    First lets understand, regardless of differences the behavior of the councilman (Ed Danko) was absolutely unnecessary and caused others to act out of line as he grand standing for his understudy Mr Lowe. Danko and his posse of idiots need to educate themselves and stop listening to the self proclaimed experts and council “Wannabe “
    In order to get your position out there use the civil method, opposed to the unnecessary behavior of the likes of Mr Danko and his very few bumbling followers!
    Please note I am not in favor of the 15% tax hike but do understand there is a lot of room to adjust this proposal which was mentioned and ignored by Mr Danko and the hecklers in the room.
    Palm coast community educate yourselves. I was just as many of you listened to the elected officials and got awful angry at these meetings. Learning how disappointed I was with the elected officials, I started educating myself.
    Trust me, I learned a lot and knowing my vote can make a difference just as all of you! I will be educating myself on these new candidates running, and with good judgment we will have dependable Councilmen/councilwoman working for the people of Palm coast. ”

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