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Seminole tax rate expected to drop

Because of rising land values, taxes shouldn't go up as much as they could have.

By ANNE LINDBERG
Published July 5, 2006


SEMINOLE - Thanks to huge increases in property values, the city's tax rate is expected to drop next year even as police and other services expand.

"This is an attempt to share (the increased revenue) with all the taxpayers," Seminole City Manager Frank Edmunds told council members at a workshop last week.

The 6.3 percent decrease in the property tax rate, from 2.936 mills to 2.75 mills, may not translate into reduced taxes for homeowners whose land values have increased. But it will mean taxes will not go up as much as they could have. A mill is $1 of tax for every $1,000 of assessed property value.

For example, a house valued at $125,000 with a $25,000 homestead exemption would pay $293.60 in city property taxes under the current tax rate. If the new rate passes, the city property taxes would be $275.

But, assuming the house did not change hands, the valuation would have gone up 3 percent. That would make the house worth $128,750 for the 2006-07 tax year. With the $25,000 homestead exemption, the taxes for '06-'07 would be $285.31, which is more than this year, but $17.10 less than the taxes would be if the millage rate is not decreased.

Council members are scheduled to meet from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday to discuss the proposed budget. Approval would come late this summer or early fall.

Among the highlights of the proposed budget:

* The city expects to receive $3.5-million in property taxes for the coming year vs. $3.1-million this year.* Total franchise fees on electric bills (the fees utilities pay to do business in a municipality) are expected to increase from $995,000 to $1.2-million.* Seminole will add an additional sheriff's deputy to its public safety budget next year, increasing the cost of the city's contract with the Pinellas County sheriff from $1.3-million to $1.6-million.* Fees for city attorney John Elias are estimated to be higher in the coming year. Much of the increase comes from $27,000 Elias has requested to cover the costs of special legal counsel on development matters. He is requesting another $15,000 for special legal counsel on billboard issues. That would take his total department request from $44,619 in the current fiscal year to $90,688 next year.