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Gainesville officials give their spin on property tax changes
City advertising increase in tax rate
Bryan Lackey
Gainesville City Manager Bryan Lackey

Gainesville budget highlights

• $148.1 million total consolidated budget (all funds)

• $34 million general fund

• $71.5 Department of Water Resources operating fund

• $20.6 million capital improvement fund

• $3.8 million fund balance

• 2.86 total millage rate, 4 percent less than previous year

• 1.42 percent tax increase to comply with 1924 special tax collection for Parks and Recreation

• No rate increase for water and sewer

• 3 percent cost-of-living increase for all employees

Source: City of Gainesville

Gainesville budget hearing

When: 10 a.m. Tuesday

Where: Public Safety Complex, 701 Queen City Parkway, Gainesville

Gainesville City Manager Bryan Lackey has a suggestion for downplaying a 1.42 percent property tax increase in the new budget.

Lackey would prefer that everyone look instead at the bigger picture. He points out that the property tax rate is dropping overall from 2.98 to 2.86 mills.

“We have to legally advertise that increase,” Lackey said at the close of a special called meeting Thursday. “I believe it can be said that we’re actually doing a 98.58 percent rollback on the taxes.”

A full rollback would mean the city is collecting no more than it collected the previous year in taxes.

A mill is the unit used to determine the property tax rate. One mill is equal to $1 per $1,000 of assessed property value.

Jeremy Perry, the city’s chief financial officer, broke down what property owners would be paying in taxes during a work session presentation prior to the special called meeting. He said the owner of a $200,000 home would have a tax bill of $582.80, or $23.20 less than the previous year.

Elected officials praised city staff for putting together a “good budget’ that includes a 3 percent cost-of-living salary increase to city workers across the board and keeps water and sewer rates unchanged.

“It’s been several years since we’ve had an across-the-board cost-of-living increase,” Lackey said. “We did have the implementation of our pay study that did target certain portions of our employment base, but not across the board.”

The pay increase will help minimize the impact of an increase in health insurance premiums.

“I do believe that our staff will be very happy to see that (pay increase), especially with the increase in the premiums,” Lackey said. “That’s a much-needed thing for our staff to have.”

The purpose of the special called council meeting was to hold the first of three required public hearings on the tax hike. It’s part of a $34 million general fund budget for fiscal year 2018 that begins July 1.

It could be that property owners are taking the city manager’s positive approach. No one commented one way or the other on the advertised tax increase.

A special city tax in the books since 1924 is responsible for the tax increase. Gainesville voters approved a tax of not less than 0.75 mill nor more than 1 mill be collected annually to fund parks and recreation services.

To keep parks and recreation funded at the current 0.75 mill level, a 1.42 percent tax increase is required.

The next public hearing on the budget is 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Public Safety Complex, 701 Queen City Parkway.

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