By DON JORDAN
Palm Beach Post
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
The higher rate still would mean a smaller tax bill for residents with properties with a taxable value of less than $336,000. It would also leave city coffers about $150,000 emptier than last year, according to a staff estimate.
City manager David Harden asked commissioners to approve the tentative rate after promising to recommend a lower rate before the commission votes on a final budget later this month. “We have discussed reducing the millage further and we do expect we will do that,” Harden said.
City officials have struggled for months to craft a budget that adjusts for decreased property values and Amendment 1, the voter-approved measure that restricts local governments’ tax rates. The general fund, which makes up about two-thirds of the tentative budget for next year, includes $2.5 million less than this year for law enforcement, parks and cultural programs and other city services.
Commissioner Fred Fetzer has been a vocal proponent of leaving the tax rate at the current level in the spirit of Amendment 1, which was overwhelmingly approved by Florida voters. Keeping the current year’s tax rate would cost the city an estimated $2 million in revenue next year. His sentiments were echoed today by a trio of Realtors who asked the commission to honor voters’ wishes and lower the property tax rate. “The message was clear,” local Realtor Nancy Hogan said. “The residents need tax relief and the escalation in government spending must stop.”
In addition to the property tax rate, commissioners tentatively approved raising a special tax paid on properties in the downtown development authority taxing district, from 95 cents to $1 for every $1,000 of assessed value. The commission will hold a second public hearing on the budget and tax rate on Sept. 16. The city tax figures do not include taxes levied by other governing bodies, including Palm Beach County and the school district.
Under the tentative rate:
– The owner of a $250,000 homesteaded property would pay about $46 less in taxes.
– The owner of a $500,000 homesteaded property would pay about $88 more in taxes.
– The owner of a $200,000 property without a homestead would pay about $12 less in taxes.
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All information is derived from the Palm Beach County Property Appraisers website and the MLS.