Cutler Bay

Cutler Bay advertises higher tax rate, but doesn’t really plan to adopt it

Cutler Bay council members have voted to advertise a maximum tax rate of $2.72 per $1,000 in taxable home value for next budget year.

But the town’s actual tax rate may end up being less. Town Manager Rafael Casals has proposed a budget with a rate of $2.57 per $1,000, the same as this year.

The council usually advertises a higher rate because once the rate is sent to homeowners in their annual tax notice, the council can adopt a rate lower than advertised but can’t easily adopt a higher one.

“We’ve historically provided that room for the council to discuss the ceiling, but we have never reached the ceiling,” Casals said.

The council set a millage rate ceiling of $2.94 during the 2012 to 2013 budget process, but ended up adopting the $2.57 rate from the previous fiscal year. Last year, the council set a ceiling of $2.84 before adopting the same tax rate.

The owner of a home assessed at $130,000, with the standard $50,000 homestead exemption, would pay about $211 at the $2.57 rate. That’s $5 more than last year, assuming the home’s assessed value increased by 1.5 percent, which is the maximum allowed this year for an owner-occupied home under the Florida Constitution.

Commercial and rental properties do not receive this protection, and their tax bills will go up in proportion to rising property values.

“I’m trying to engage the community in the conversation early on so we can act and talk about the millage [tax] rate that I’m proposing,” Casals said. “We aren’t even talking 2.7202 anymore. That was an ‘artificial ceiling.’ ”

These figures include only town tax. Miami-Dade County, the school board and other agencies also levy property taxes, which will be shown in a notice that the county property appraiser sends out this month.

The town council met July 23 for its first budget workshop and will meet Aug. 20 for its second workshop. Scheduled budget hearings are set for 7 p.m. Sept. 9 and 7 p.m. Sept. 23 at Town Hall, 10720 Caribbean Blvd.