DUNEDIN — Most city commissioners are reluctant to establish the rollback rate for property taxes that will be levied the next fiscal year.

The rollback rate, which is 3.76 mills, is that which brings in the same amount of property tax revenue generated for the current fiscal year, reflecting an increase in property values. The current tax rate is 4.13 mills.

One mill is equal to $1 for every $1,000 of assessed property value.

Mayor Julie Ward Bujalski asked for commissioners for their opinions May 31 on adopting the rollback rate because of staff decisions that have to be made pertaining to the budget.

"We either have to say we are in support of it or put it to bed," she said.

Commissioner Moe Freaney said she would remain open-minded until commissioners put their mark on the budget, but won't support it at this point.

"My view right now when I look at these numbers I'm not interested in lowering a little bit of something that has a minimal impact. What I think I want to do is hold the tax rate consistent and even out as far as we possibly can based on all the pressures we have because we have cost increases," she said.

Commissioner Deborah Kynes said the rollback savings for residents is a "negligible give-back" compared to giving them "the excellence of our staff and our workers and our employees to be able to provide the excellent service they demand."

She said based on her calculations, the savings in the rollback rate will come to $3.41 per month for the average homeowner. 

Commissioner Jeff Gow said he would like to give residents a reprieve whenever he can, but expressed concern about a possible shortfall in revenue even if commissioners don't adopt proposed rollback rate.

"We all seem to be stressed about that, and then you want to add a reduction in revenue on top of that. To me it doesn't make sense," Gow said.

Commissioner John Tornga supports adopting the rollback rate, noting that some people are getting kicked out of their houses, and inflation will be dangerous to people on fixed incomes and in retirement mode.

"Is it absolutely the right thing to do? I couldn't tell you, but I feel strong enough to support it," Tornga said. 

Bujalski said commissioners don't know what new positions will be needed on city staff among other issues affecting the budget. 

“We really don't know how much our operating expenses are going to increase given what's going on in the world," Bujalski said.

She said she would rather take the $1.2 million value of the rollback rate and target it to people who really need it.

"Whether it's rent abatement ... I'm not saying I know what the answer is, but if there is a real concern about helping our residents out for certain things, I would rather discuss taking that value to help our residents out," Bujalski said.

City Finance Director Les Tyler said based on the current tax rate, homeowners on the average would pay about $40 more per year in property taxes for the next fiscal year.

He said staff would like to know what in the proposed millage rate will be in July so that commissioners can discuss it at budget workshops in August.