TREASURE ISLAND — In the upcoming 2020 fiscal year, residents with homes valued from $250,000 to $500,000 face a property tax increase of from $4 to $9 dollars to pay for an increase in services, new facilities and improvements.
After a series of public hearings, it will take a supermajority vote to raise the city’s tax rate from 3.43 to 3.61 mills for the city’s proposed 2020 budget.
A mill is equivalent to $1 for every $1,000 of assessed property value. The increase will raise $842,625 for the city’s operating budget.
This past year the city’s total taxable value of property rose 7.72 percent.
“For the first time since pre-recessionary levels the city’s tax base value exceeds 2008 levels,” Assistant City Manager and Finance Director Amy Davis told city commissioners at a July 17 budget workshop.
“Last year we were just under it and this year we exceed it. It’s taken 12 years to recover for that value to be equal. It’s kind of remarkable how long it’s taken,” Davis said.
She noted other factors, such as state-mandated millage rate caps, that also factored into the recovery.
Under state law, the city can adopt a millage rollback rate of 3.23 mills with a simple majority vote, which would give most homeowners a $2 to $5 annual tax reduction, but then it could not fund additional items in next year’s budget.
“The proposed 2020 budget contemplates closing the deal with the new city facility at the Allied building. We continue to make forward progress,” City Manager Garry Brumback said.
The budget also is expected to put away money for maintenance of the Treasure Island Causeway bridge.
The budget recognizes “we have stormwater and drainage issues across the city; in the city’s proposed 2020 budget, we are putting away resources to take care of them,” he added.
The budget proposal recommends the city set aside a second consecutive .10 millage rate increase for 2020 for renewal and rehabilitation of the causeway and bridge, as well as a .076 millage rate increase to replace the non-ad valorem revenue being directed toward debt service for the purchase of the Allied building, Brumback added.
By increasing the tax rate by .1 mill next fiscal year and subsequently each year until .5 mills is reached, city officials expect to provide enough funding to pay for the majority of capital rehabilitation projects for the causeway.
“An increase of .176 to the millage rate combined with a property value increase citywide results in an increase in the overall property taxes levied by the city,” he said.
Utility fees may be raised to offset additional costs to the city. The city manager said the city of St. Petersburg provided Treasure Island officials with a preliminary bulk sewer cost increase of 11.84 percent, resulting in a volumetric rate increase of $2 or a 10% increase to city customers.
Another 10% increase in the stormwater utility fee, he said, is needed to fund the proposed capital improvements to the City’s stormwater system.
The budget also proposes a 4% increase in the city’s recycling fee to reflect the contract fee increase. The city is absorbing a landfill tipping fee imposed by the county in the base fee, he said.
Brumback said he is also looking to taking the city forward from a technological standpoint.
“One of my goals this year is to create a virtual town hall, which will allow any of our residents or visitors to do anything that would otherwise have them come to City Hall on their computer through our webpage. We always want people to feel welcome to come to city hall at any time, but they just won’t be required to come here anymore unless they absolutely want to,” Brumback said.
He said everything the city does is graphic information system-based, so the city is looking to hire a GIS analyst.
The city also plans to add a code compliance inspector to meet needs of community code enforcement, along with a part-time parking enforcement officer. Three firefighters are expected to be hired, with part of the cost funded by the county emergency management system.
The proposed general fund budget for fiscal year 2020 is $14.3 million, a 13 percent decrease from the budget for the current fiscal year.
The City Commission’s first public hearing to adopt the budget and tax rate is set for Tuesday, Sept. 3, at 6 p.m. The final hearing is set for Tuesday, Sept. 17, at 6 p.m.
The fiscal year begins Oct. 1.