For the third straight year, the property tax rate will stay the same in Zephyrhills.
The Zephyrhills City Council voted to set the tentative millage rate at 6.35 mills.
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 council does, however, have the option to reduce the rate before then.
Public hearings on the proposed rate are scheduled Sept. 11 at 6 p.m., and Sept. 25 at 6 p.m., in the Zephyrhills Public Library meeting room, 5347 Eighth St.
City records show that maintaining a rate of 6.35 mills will generate about $3.91 million in property taxes, an increase of nearly $218,000 over last year. Those figures are based on the proposed total city property value of about $651 million.
In the 2014-2015 fiscal year, Zephyrhills’ tax rate was 6.1415 mills. But, two years ago, the council opted to raise the rate to 6.35 mills to “accommodate operational improvements.”
Based on the 6.35-millage rate, the total budget for the new fiscal year will be slightly more than $16.8 million across the city’s 10 departments.
The remaining money necessary for the 2017-2018 budget will come from other funding sources, including state revenues, franchise fees, utility fees and grants.
The Zephyrhills Police Department, among other departments, will see several equipment and operational upgrades.
The draft budget includes funding to purchase four new Ford Explorers (two K9 and two marked units), totaling $166,000, along with several new firearms ($23,000) and Taser replacements ($11,000).
Other upgrades include new officer laptops ($15,000) and external police cameras ($21,000), plus a $160,000 replacement air conditioning unit at the agency’s station.
Additionally, police overtime is increasing by about $20,000, to account for shift overtime and various training programs.
The city’s parks department has several new digs coming their way, too.
Funds are earmarked for a new, $300,000 concession stand at Krusen Field, and Zephyr Park is slated to receive $150,000 in new playground equipment.
The department also is set to receive two replacement pickup trucks totaling $50,000 and a zero-turn lawnmower, worth $12,000.
As in prior years, the city plans to divvy out thousands of dollars in grants.
According to the draft budget, The Greater Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce is slated to receive $50,000 from the city, while the East Pasco YMCA will receive $30,000. Sports youth leagues will receive $10,000, and Zephyrhills High School will receive $10,000 for scholarships.
Besides funding $30,000 for the Samaritan Project, the city also is working on budgeting water lines and service to Helping Rock, a homeless shelter on Forbes Road that provides 24-hour housing and is a resource for the Zephyrhills Police Department.
Other proposed budget items include:
- A 3 percent increase in salaries and benefits for employees, at an additional cost of about $300,000.
- A contingency fund of about $1.6 million, a decrease of $1.2 million from the current fiscal year — mainly due to funding for Tyler software, overages at the Jeffries House and costs for implementing employee pay increases.
- Worker’s compensation is $245,000, an increase of about $30,000 from the previous year.
- An increase to $770,000, up from $669,000, for casualty and property insurance.
The budget also includes a loan of more than $7 million for the construction of the new City Hall, which has been carried over from last year. The loan amount will be paid on an annual basis from Penny for Pasco revenues.
Another budget workshop is anticipated sometime in August to discuss, among other issues, costs and improvements to revitalize the former Hercules Park property, and to finalize a plan for the anticipated Sarah Vande Berg Tennis Center.
City staff is currently working on the tennis center’s design, as well as building construction costs.
According to City Manager Steve Spina, an early estimate of the building cost is $2.25 million, while court construction costs are anticipated to be $950,000, to be paid out of park impact fees by District of Abbot Station developer David Waronker. The city, meanwhile, still needs to enter into a contract to take ownership of the site and payment of the park impact fees for court construction.
Also of note: The Dade City Commission voted to set their tentative millage rate at 7.14 mills, the same figure set for the 2016-2017 fiscal year.
City records show that maintaining a rate of 7.14 mills will generate about $1.89 million in property taxes, an increase of $80,700 from last year.
Published August 2, 2017