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Palm Coast Wednesday, Jul. 18, 2018 4 months ago

City considers keeping the millage rate flat, a slight tax increase

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The city will set its TRIM rate at the end of the month.
by: Jonathan Simmons News Editor

Palm Coast is considering a 2019 budget that would keep the city’s millage rate flat at $4.5937 per $1,000 of taxable value. Because property values have risen, that would be a slight tax increase for homeowners.

The city is also considering increasing the rate slightly, by about 10 cents per $1,000 of taxable value, to pay for various government technology expenses.

The overall general fund budget is expected to be $36,905,742, up 5.5% from the 2018 budget. Operating expenditures are expected to rise about 4%.

City Council members discussed the city’s general fund budget for the coming year during a July 17 City Council workshop

“We are very comfortable doing what we always do, which is presenting you a budget without a rate increase from property taxes,” City Manager Jim Landon said as the workshop began. “But there’s always those opportunities that if you want to find additional items we could present some of those to you, that are in your priorities, that are not in our current level of service.”

The city will hold a special meeting July 31 to adopt the truth in millage rate, or TRIM rate, which sets the maximum possible millage for there upcoming fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. It will then meet in August and September to finalize the budget.

The proposed $4.5937 rate would bring in enough additional money this year to pay a 2.9% salary adjustment for staff, 3% average merit raises, and a number of additional staff positions.

A couple of those jobs, like the traffic engineer and business tax inspector, Landon said, are now being done by one person, and the city would be adding a second.

The safety coordinator, he said, would be tasked with helping prevent staff injuries. “That position will pay for itself because of workers’ comp rates and things that go along with injuries,” he said. 

Some of the city’s largest General Fund expenditures are for public safety: The city is projecting $8,931,687 in proposed expenditures in 2019 for its fire department, up 3.3%.

Law enforcement is an other major expense: The city, which contracts with the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office for police services, is proposing a $3,505,503 budget for 2019, up 5%.

Options that wouldn’t be funded if the city keeps the millage flat would include $500,000 worth of “smart city technology improvements” and $5,000 in additional requested grant money for Flagler Volunteer Services.

To fund those, the city could increase the millage rate by 0.1052. Landon suggested the city add the 0.1052 to the TRIM rate so that it has some flexibility as the City Council considers budget options. The city will set the TRIM rate at the end of the month.

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