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County to consider cutting tax rate

However, after listening to irate taxpayers, commissioners don't agree on any specific cuts.

By TIMES STAFF WRITER
Published September 8, 2006


CLEARWATER - Pinellas County commissioners Thursday night agreed to consider cutting the county's property tax rate after being besieged by dozens of outraged taxpayers.

Commissioners did not agree on any specific cuts in either county spending or the tax rate. They did tell a standing-room-only crowd they had heard the protests, many from business owners who said rising taxes and property assessments are squeezing them out of business.

County officials had planned to increase the budget 12 percent, build up reserves, and spend more on affordable housing, social services and the Sheriff's Office. But those priorities would be misplaced, critics said.

For now, commissioners gave their tentative approval to the proposed $1.97-billion budget for fiscal year 2006-07. That approval also covered the county's proposed tax rate of about $6.60 in property taxes for each $1,000 of assessed taxable value.

But commissioners pledged to ask their staff to look at reducing the budget before a final public hearing on Sept. 19.

Given this past year's 20.3 percent increase in property values, the county would have to reduce its countywide property tax rate to $5.72 per $1,000 in value to reach its "rollback rate" - the rate at which it would generate the same amount of revenue that it has seen this year.

[Last modified September 8, 2006, 05:53:34]


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