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Politics

Tax rate to drop to lowest in 40 years

Safety Harbor must reduce tax collections by $70,000 to meet the state mandate.

By EILEEN SCHULTE
Published July 20, 2007


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SAFETY HARBOR - Property owners in this small city of 17,800 will see their tax rate drop nearly 7.5 percent to its lowest rate in 40 years, city staff proposed Wednesday as part of next year's budget considerations.

The change - the first in three years - is being forced by the state Legislature's requirement that all local governments reduce property tax collections next year below this year's level.

Safety Harbor must reduce total property tax collections by roughly 3 percent, or $70,000, under a state mandate lawmakers approved earlier this year.

Safety Harbor's proposed tax rate, $2.50 per $1,000 in taxable value, means a home with a taxable value of $150,000 and a $25,000 homestead exemption will pay $312.50 in city taxes in 2008.

This year, owners of homes of that value paid $337.50 with a tax rate of $2.70 per $1,000.

City Manager Billy Beckett recommended commissioners increase recreation fees and building permit fees, both of which haven't been adjusted in years, to compensate for some of the property tax loss.

But he told commissioners personnel changes aren't expected to be drastic.

The City Commission may eliminate the economic development director position, a part-time secretary at the fire station, a recreation leader, a utility maintenance worker and a sanitation collector. City staff members also have recommended adding a firefighter-paramedic and an engineer.

Eileen Schulte can be reached at 727 445-4153 or schulte@sptimes.com.

Fast Facts:

Lower bills on the way

Safety Harbor city commissioners are considering a plan to reduce the city's millage rate from 2.7 mills in 2007 to 2.5 mills in 2008.

That means citizens who own a $150,000 home with a $25,000 homestead exemption would pay $312.50 in city taxes in 2008. This year, such property owners paid $337.50.

[Last modified July 20, 2007, 06:38:17]


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