The Pinecrest Village Council voted earlier this month to raise the maximum millage rate for next fiscal year to $2.4 per $1,000 in assessed property value, up from the $2.2 it has maintained since 2012. The budget year starts Oct. 1.
Council members hastened to emphasize before their vote that they were not yet setting the actual tax rate, and that their vote only advertised a tax rate for public review. During the budget process, which ends Sept. 26, the village may lower the millage rate initially advertised, but barring extenuating circumstances, it cannot raise it.
“We’re having this discussion of giving ourselves a higher ceiling until we go through and decide what we’re going to build, when and how we’re going to finance it. That’s going to take time over the next couple of months,” Mayor Cindy Lerner said during the meeting.
“If we do vote for the 2.4, it’s not set in stone that that’s what it’s going to ultimately be our tax rate for this year, but it gives us the flexibility to go anywhere up to 2.4,” she added later.
According to Village Manager Yocelyn Galiano Gomez, the village can keep its millage rate of $2.2 if it just wants to stay on top of current debt obligations and maintain day-to-day operations. But if it wants to go ahead now with four major capital improvement projects for which plans are ready, it’s going to have to raise the tax rate to float the necessary bond.
Those projects include expanding the community center, redeveloping Coral Pine Park, developing Veterans Wayside Park, and expanding the council chamber in the municipal center.
Residents do not pay property taxes according to their property’s market value, but according to its assessed value, minus any relevant exemptions such as the $50,000 Homestead Exemption. Property owners receive a state-mandated letter known as the “TRIM notice” in August from the county property appraiser’s office. It lists the assessed and taxable value of one’s home, as well as the maximum millage rates set by one’s municipality, county, school board and other local agencies, as well as all relevant public hearings.
According to the village manager’s budget message, Pinecrest property assessments now average out to $577,306. That means that at a rate of 2.2 mills, the average homeowner will pay out $1,270.07 to the village this year. If the village decides to go up to 2.4, that bill will then total $1,385.53. Last year, the average property owner paid out $1,147.15.
The council will convene for a budget workshop Aug. 19 at 9:30 a.m. to discuss the proposed budget in detail as well as what capital improvement projects, if any, the village would like to go ahead with in the short term. The village manager will also be hosting a town hall, likely the week before, to go over the budget with any interested residents.
As mandated by law, the village has set two public hearings, one on Sept. 9, and the other on Sept. 23, to discuss the budget. Both will be held at 7 p.m. at the municipal center, 12645 Pinecrest Pkwy.
The village has already published its proposed budget online, and it is available at http://www.pinecrest-fl.gov/