TREASURE ISLAND – Ongoing capital maintenance project costs expected for the Treasure Island Causeway bascule bridge forced city financial staff to recommend a slight .1 percent increase to the city’s proposed millage rate for the coming fiscal year.

During the City Commission’s regular meeting July 24, Assistant City Manager and Finance Director Amy Davis explained the proposed 2019 general fund budget is based on approval of a tax rate of 3.43 mills, which is a .1 mill increase over last year’s rage of 3.33 and is 9.90 percent above the rolled-back rate.

According to the Pinellas County Property Appraiser’s Office, the city enjoyed a 9.96 percent increase in its taxable property values last year.

Davis explained the additional .1 mill increase is designed to increase the current .1 mill, already in the budget and dedicated toward funding capital maintenance needed for the bascule bridge, to .2 mills.

Commissioner Heidi Horvak said it’s “fiscally responsible to designate money for capital improvement maintenance items for the bridge.”

To adopt a tax rate for next fiscal year, the city must hold two public hearings on the tax rate and budget; the meetings cannot be on the same date as that of the County Commission or the School Board meetings to set its millage rates.

Therefore, in Treasure Island tax rates for next year will be officially adopted during City Commission meetings on first reading Tuesday, Sept. 4, and second reading, Tuesday, Sept. 18.

While last year saw another rise in taxable property values in Treasure Island, with an increase of 6.96 percent, finance staff cautions the city has still not made up for losses incurred during the recession.

“This will be the sixth consecutive year taxable property values have increased, following five years of consecutive declines with a cumulative impact of minus 38 percent on the city’s taxable values, Davis told commissioners. As a result, while there is an increase of 6.96 percent from the prior year, the taxable values are approximately .12 percent lower than the city’s taxable value pre-recession FY 2008.”

The fiscal years of 2009 to 2013, where property values were declining, had a significant impact on the city’s revenues since property taxes is one of the city’s major revenue streams, she added.

In 2018 fiscal year Treasure Island recorded 14th lowest property tax rate out of 24 Pinellas cities.

In contrast, in July St. Pete Beach enjoyed the greatest taxable property value increase of any city in the county at 11.57 percent. For the last four years the city has had a tax rate of 3.15, which this past year marked the 16th lowest in the county.

In 2018 Madeira Beach found itself in 18th place adopting a property tax rate of 2.20 mills, the same it had for the previous two years. In July, Madeira saw an increase in its taxable property value of 7.76 percent.

The highest tax rate in the county has historically been adopted by the city of St. Petersburg; it’s the only city in the county with millage in the upper 6 percent range. During the last two years the city has adopted a millage rate of 6.75, which was down from 6.77 from 2014-2016.