Pasco County property owners, on average, are expected to pay more in property taxes, but not because of a higher tax rate, Robert Goehig, the county’s budget director said last week.
Instead, it will be increasing property values that will create the higher tax bills, Goehig said, during a June 25 Pasco County Commission budget workshop.
Value increases for homesteaded properties will be capped at 2.7 percent because of Florida’s Save Our Homes, which limits the annual increase in value for any property owner’s principal residence to 3 percent or the consumer price index, whichever is less.
This year’s CPI is 2.7 percent, Goehig said.
Thus, the owner of a homesteaded $150,000 single-family home would see a $2,700 increase in value. ($150,000 minus the $50,000 standard exemption = $100,000. $100,000 x 2.7 = $2,700).
Based on that value increase, the tax bill would go up $20.54.
The taxable value of a non-homesteaded single-family home is expected to increase an average of $13,500, resulting in an additional $102.70 in property taxes — again, due to increased property values.
The proposed tax rate was just one of myriad topics that Goehig, County Administrator Dan Biles and commissioners discussed during the workshop.
Goehig told commissioners that the county is anticipating a 9 percent increase in assessed values, including the base taxable value, new construction and reevaluations.
The county is anticipating a total of $29.43 billion in taxable values, up from $27.01 billion last year.
The expected 9 percent increase is lower than the county’s original projection of 9.5 percent. The final taxable value was not yet available when the workshop was held.
In putting together the proposed budget, County Administrator Biles has proposed increasing the county’s general fund reserves from 9.6 percent to a proposed 11.1 percent, which represents an additional $4.3 million held in reserve.
The Government Finance Officers Association recommends local governments have a minimum of two months of operating expenses (16.7 percent of budgeted expenditures) set aside in emergency reserve, according to the county’s budget presentation.
The increase in the general fund reserve is in response to direction by board members at a previous session, when commissioners told Biles they’d like to see the county to begin putting aside more money in the reserve fund, to avoid significant cuts in the future when the economy slows.
Goehig also went over the budget requests from the county’s constitutional officers:
- Sheriff’s Office: Requested amount, $141.64 million; increase of $8.74 million, or 6.6 percent
- Property Appraiser: Requested amount, $5.72 million; increase of $109,067, or 2 percent
- Clerk & Comptroller: Requested amount, $4.29 million increase of $183,839, or 4 percent
- Supervisor of Elections; $4.32 million; increase of $623,645, or 16.9 percent
The tax collector’s budget is not due until Aug. 1.
Goehig noted that the proposed increase in the Supervisor of Elections’ budget “at first blush is a shocking increase.” But, he added that elections are held on a cyclical basis, and the county’s population has increased substantially.
Pasco County’s growth has increased the county’s registered voters by more than 50,000 since the 2016 Presidential Election. The county also needs more precincts to service the additional voters.
Goehig also noted there will be more early voting sites and more early voting days for next year’s election.
Taking the changes into account, Goehig said, “we believe it’s a reasonable request.”
The budget director also noted that the county administration received 115 Business Plan Initiatives, representing a total of $14.5 million from the county’s various divisions.
“We asked our departments to go out and tell us everything they believed that they needed. In the past, what we found is that our departments were kind of censoring themselves,” Goehig said.
“We’ve ranked about 50 of these projects that we believe are the priority proposals,” he said.
The county’s No. 1 priority is a wage increase for its employees, according to the list. The second-highest priority is the restoration of library hours that were cut after the Great Recession.
Rounding out the top five priorities are: Pasco Kids Medical Exams, Emergency Communications Supervisors and a Generator Replacement Plan.
Commissioner Kathryn Starkey said she thinks there’s something missing on the county’s list of priorities.
“There is something that is not in our budget that I would like to see back and that is our outside legislative person. I think we do better when we have some help. I’d like to bring that back,” Starkey said.
Commissioner Mike Moore told his colleagues that the county should say no to some of the requests from outside groups for county funding.
“It is time to start putting that money away. We do not know how long this great economy is going to last,” Moore said. “There is a point where we’re going to have to say ‘No’ to some folks. That’s just the way it is.”
The commissioner said he’s not trying to sound brash, but “when you decide to start a not-for-profit, you need to be ready to able raise the money, get the money and fund those services.”
Moore also said there is duplication of services among charitable groups.
“Some of those folks need to get together. Egos get in the way sometimes; it’s a fact,” he said.
He also thinks that the charitable groups that the county helps need to be able to say no to funding requests they receive.
“They’re asking for more money because they don’t want to say no to people,” Moore said.
Commissioners are expected to set their millage rate at their July 9 meeting.
After that, Truth in Millage statements will be sent out, informing property owners of the maximum tax rate that could be adopted in September.
The final rate adopted in September can be lower or equal to the TRIM rate, but cannot be higher.
Highlights of Pasco County’s proposed budget
- Estimated taxable value: $29.43 billion, up $2.42 billion from last year
- No change in operating millage rate of 7.6076 mills
- No change in fire service millage: 1.8036 mills
- No change in stormwater assessment: $95 per equivalent residential unit (ERU = single family home)
- $7 increase in solid waste assessment
- Utility rate increase: 1.5 percent water; 3.5 percent wastewater
Revised July 2, 2019
Published July 03, 2019
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