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MADEIRA BEACH – The City Commission has decided to leave the city’s tax rate at 2.2 mills, where it has been for the last three years. The unanimous vote to leave the rate unchanged came during a budget hearing at the commission’s Sept. 4 regular meeting.

Despite the unchanged rate, the city is still expected to receive an additional $180,000 in revenue in the coming fiscal year, due to increasing property values. About 30 percent of the average resident’s total tax bill will come to the city of Madeira Beach, City Manager Jonathan Evans said.

Madeira Beach’s tax rate is the county’s lowest among comparable-sized full-service cities, where fire protection is included in the budget and not a separate tax. Neighboring Treasure Island’s current millage rate is 3.33 mills and St. Pete Beach’s is 3.15 mills.

The average Madeira Beach resident pays about $630 a year in taxes to the city, “which is about what people pay for cellphone service,” Evans said.

The lower taxes are due in part to the large amount of income the city receives from parking revenue, Evans said. He said the millage rate “would probably be double” without the income from parking.

While property values are increasing, Evans said the recovery has been a long time coming. The values are just now getting back to where they were in 2008, he said.

Evans said the cost of doing business has been going up for the city, with increases in policing costs, union negotiated raises for city employees, rising fuel prices, etc. Commissioner John Douthirt wanted to know if the additional income the city will be receiving in taxes will be used to fix lights at the ball fields and other overdue items. Evans said that would come from the BP oil spill funds. He said a large portion of the tax revenue increase “will go to pay raises.”