Broward County

In Miami-Dade, schools command top tax rate

With Miami-Dade’s budget season coming to a close, it’s a good time to consider who is actually getting the money.

That’s a complicated question, given the multiple layers of taxing authorities and special county districts funding libraries and rescue services, which cover a majority of properties but not all of them.

Dade Data recently drilled down into tax rates on the property bills across Miami-Dade and came up with a rough answer.

On average, the county school system gets the largest share: 37 cents of every dollar paid.

The county itself comes in a close second, taking in 34 cents.

Municipal government (including the special tax charged properties in unincorporated Miami-Dade) comes in third, at 25 cents, with the minor taxes collected by various environmental districts and the county’s Children’s Trust rounding out the remaining four cents.

Again, those are averages. We’ve posted breakdowns for each municipality in this chart, including a line for unincorporated Miami-Dade. [Don’t see a chart? Click here.]

Governments charge property taxes based on “millage rates,” which is basically the amount of money owed for every $1,000 of a property’s taxable value. In Miami-Dade, the average combined rate for all jurisdictions is $21.94 for every $1,000 of taxable value. (So about $2,194 yearly for a property worth $100,000.)

Each layer of government contributes to the combined rate. Countywide, the school board charges $7.97 per $1,000 of taxable value. Miami-Dade County itself charges a range between $5 and $8, depending on whether the property sits in a municipality that participates in the county’s fire service or library system. Both services have their own taxes.

The widest range comes from municipalities themselves — some residents pay their cities, villages and towns upwards of $10 per $1,000, while some pay less than $2 per $1,000.

Caveats: Our list, based on data provided by the county property appraiser, uses advertised rates for 2015, so it won’t reflect last-minute tweaks to the tax rates that local governments might have made heading into the next fiscal year.

Also, our average doesn’t take into account the value of various tax rolls, or how much tax revenue the residents of municipalities are actually generating. We’re just looking at the rates.

The higher the municipal tax rate, the lower the share that goes to county sources.

Miami-Dade’s highest-taxed jurisdiction is Biscayne Park, where property owners pay a combined rate $26.43 for every $1,000 of taxable value. In Biscayne Park, 37 percent goes to the city itself, 30 percent each to the county government and school board, and about 4 percent to water districts, Everglades restoration and the Children’s Trust. (Because of rounding, the figures don’t combine to 100 percent.)

David Coviello, Biscayne Park’s mayor, said the tax rate hasn’t been a source of friction in the village, given the high level of services offered by the local government. Still, with only residential properties in the tax base, Biscayne Park is seeking to annex an adjoining commercial district in an effort to shift some of the burden away from residents, Coviello said.

“Obviously, I think [residents] would prefer lower taxes. But they’re very satisfied with the services we provide,” he said. “The police service being one of the primary concerns. We’re a very safe community.”

Key Biscayne, home to some of the most-valuable real estate in Miami-Dade, shows up as the least-taxed jurisdiction, with a combined rate of $17.29 per $1,000 of assessed value. The village has its own fire department and charges the lowest municipal tax among the six cities exempt from the county fire tax.

It’s interesting to note how little residents of unincorporated Miami-Dade pay for municipal services from the county.

Living outside city limits, residents rely on Miami-Dade to provide police, garbage pick-up, street repair and other services often provided by municipalities. Residents in unincorporated Dade pay $1.93 per $1,000 for municipal services, tying Doral for the second-lowest in Miami-Dade. Aventura has the lowest municipal rate at $1.73 per $1,000.

By contrast, Biscayne Park charges $9.70 per $1,000 for municipal services.

At a recent budget meeting, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez fielded complaints about some sub-par services in the unincorporated areas of the county. Gimenez noted the relatively low tax rate and said: “You get what you pay for.”

This post is part of Dade Data, an online series from the Miami Herald’s County Hall team. Dade Data explores the numbers driving Miami-Dade County’s government.