Dade City property owners won’t see an increase in their ad valorem tax rate for fiscal year 2021-2022.
Despite a debate, the Dade City Commission voted 4-1 to adopt the tentative millage rate at 7.14 mills for fiscal year 2021-2022 — the same rate as it has been for several years.
Under state law, once a tentative millage rate has been set, the city cannot raise it before the start of the fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.
The commission has the option, however, to reduce the rate before then.
At the rate of 7.14 mills, ad valorem tax revenues in the city’s general fund are anticipated to levy an estimated $2.3 million, an increase of slightly more than $262,000, up from this year’s $2 million budget.
The breakdown of ad valorem revenues comes from the assessed value of the city’s 1,857 single-family homes, of which 1,231 have at least one exemption, according to city records.
A mill represents $1 in tax for every $1,000 worth of a property’s taxable assessed value.
The property tax on a home assessed at $95,000 at 7.14 mills would yield $678, for example.
Public hearings on the proposed millage rate are scheduled for Sept. 15 and Sept. 27.
Debate ensues over tentative millage rate
Commissioners debated at length, during their July 27 meeting, before adopting the tentative rate.
Dade City Manager Leslie Porter offered no staff recommendation, leaving the direction up to elected leaders.
Mayor Pro Tem Jim Shive made a motion to set the tentative property tax rate at 7.14 mills, quickly seconded by Commissioner Normita Woodard.
Then, Commissioner Knute Nathe opened up discussion.
He advocated setting a higher millage, at 7.497 mills, to provide greater financial flexibility to fund various initiatives discussed during a preceding 90-minute budget workshop.
This higher rate of 7.497 mills would represent a 5% increase in ad valorem revenues compared to 7.14 mills, levying slightly more than $2.4 million. (The property tax on a home assessed at $95,000 at 7.497 mills would be $729, instead of $678 at 7.14 mills.)
During the preceding workshop, needs identified included about 15 new full-time positions to resolve staffing needs across several city departments, a need to adopt a competitive pay scale and the need to address wage compression for existing employees.
Nathe noted that workshop discussion involved a lot of talk “about a lot of wants and a lot of extra dollar signs.”
Commissioner Scott Black backed Nathe’s concerns, expressing the need to give the city some “wiggle room” to help accommodate staffing needs and wage increases.
Black moved to amend the original motion to set the tentative millage rate at 7.497.
But Black’s motion failed, on a 2-3 vote, with Shive, Woodard and Mayor Camille Hernandez dissenting.
After that, Nathe suggested setting the tentative millage rate at 7.3185 mills, but that failed to find support from his colleagues.
So, board members voted on the original motion to set the tentative millage rate at 7.14 mills, passing it on a 4-1 vote, with Nathe voting no.
Hernandez pointed out that the city has some “creative funding mechanisms” it can use to resolve some staffing and salary issues.
“There are some things that we’ve had in the past that people said we couldn’t do it, and we did it,” she said.
Some of these funding options will likely be addressed in more detail at forthcoming budget workshops, she said.
“I know there’s lots of things that need to be done,” Hernandez said, “so I certainly look forward to the next workshop with some numbers and things that we can continue to have some productive conversation, as we continue to move forward.”
Shive likewise is confident with the city’s budget situation.
He suggested the municipality is “in a better position than we have in the past,” thanks to a slew of new residential developments (and thousands of new homes) coming on board over the next handful of years. “I think we’re going to be fine,” he said.
Black cautioned that items discussed during the budget workshop may not be feasible, if the city is not willing to generate the revenue that’s needed.
Published August 04, 2021