GREEN COVE SPRINGS – The Clay County millage rate for fiscal year 2018-19 will remains the same rate as the current budget year that ends Sept. 30.
At the Sept. 25 Board of County Commissioners meeting, the BCC approved the final millage rate of 8.101 after a 5-0 vote. While this means that no homeowners will see increased or decreased taxes for this upcoming fiscal year as a result of the millage rate, homeowners could still see changes in their property taxes. If they do, though, that will be because of changes in their property value.
“The millage rate is effectively the same,” said Clay County Auditor Mike Price. “The property values for most people went up though so more money will be brought in because of that.”
Millage rates are complex and can be parsed out by governments to show exactly where funds go. For example, 8.101 is the County Services, Unincorporated Services Fund, Law Enforcement Fund, Fire Control Fund and Lake Asbury special taxing district mills added up. There is an additional 3 mills that could be added as a result of the Challenger Roadway special taxing district, bringing the total millage rate to 11.101, but only a handful of people will be affected by this, so, according to Price, 99.9 percent of Clay County property owners will see a millage rate of 8.101.
Price said the BCC is expecting $83.54 million to come in from the 2018-19 millage rate of 8.101. While this is an increase of roughly $5.6 million that will be used to fund increases in public safety and healthcare among other things, 8.101 is still not enough to completely cover police and fire and rescue. Price said the barebone cost of police and fire and rescue is $83.7 million, but when you toss in other costs, the taxpayer might not think about, such as the cost to ensure buildings are built to code, the number rises to over $100 million.
“Even with increased property values that will bring in more money, it’s still not enough to cover the cost,” Price said.
Commissioner Mike Cella touched on this aspect before voting to approve the millage rate, and explained that the BCC will have to take money from other places to pay for public safety services.
“The bottom line is that even though the ad valorem property tax will increase...it is still not enough to pay for both the sheriff’s department and fire and rescue so those essential services in our community...are still not covered by our property taxes,” Cella said. “We have to take money from other areas to pay for this service.”
Cella said that even with an increase in the property tax – as a result of the increased property values and not because of the millage rate – the BCC has worked hard to keep costs lower in other areas such as doing a lot more with a lot less staff.
The rest of the BCC echoed Cella’s thoughts before voting to approve the millage rate. To put the numbers into context, last year, the certified taxable value of homeowner property in Clay County was $9,929,585,600 and the millage rate was 8.101. This year, the certified taxable value is $10,642,384,756. Despite the millage rate remaining the same at 8.101, that 7.18 percent increase in taxable value will bring in more money for the county.
For a homeowner’s property valued at $150,000, the property tax for fiscal year 2018-19 will be $1,212.15. This number continues to rise by roughly $400 for each $50,000 increase in property value. For example, a property valued at $200,000 will see a tax of $1,620 and a $250,000 property will see a tax of $2,025 and so on.
“This will come out as a tax increase at the end of the day,” said Commissioner Wayne Bolla. “The millage rate that we paid last year will be the same that we pay this year and the increase will come from the increase in your property values that happen because Clay County is a better place to live in.”
The next BCC meeting is Oct. 9.