Rising property values are likely to push locals' tax bills higher this year, even if the County Commission approves a modest decrease in the tax rate.
Flagler County commissioners would like to decrease the county's overall property tax rate, but property values have risen so steeply that actual tax bills are still expected to rise.
County Commissioners at a July 11 meeting approved a tentative 2023 fiscal year operating millage rate of 8.1547 mills, or $8.1547 per $1,000 in taxable value — the same rate as this year's — and a debt service millage rate of 0.2915 mills, a reduction from 0.3300 mills this year. That would make the coming year's overall millage rate $8.4462 per $1,000 in taxable value, down from $8.4847 per $1,000 in taxable value this year.
The rate isn't final, and commissioners hope to reduce it more, potentially by a tenth of a mill, before approving a final rate this fall.
"My expectation is we'll reach a lower number as we continue to work at it," Commissioner Andy Dance said.
"My expectation is we'll reach a lower number as we continue to work at it."
— ANDY DANCE, county commissioner
County Administrator Heidi Petito said the county is trying.
"We're exploring some options for alternative funding, cost-saving measures, looking at various grant opportunities, looking at ways that potentially we might be able to consolidate some departments or services," she said.
Although an operating millage rate of 8.1547 would be the same as this year's rate, property values have risen so much that it's also 13.79% higher than the rate known as the "rollback rate," which would bring in the same overall dollar amount of tax revenue as the county collected this year.
To collect the same dollar amount in the 2023 fiscal year as it did in the 2022 fiscal year, the county would have to set the operating millage rate at 7.1663 mills, according to Flagler County Financial Services Director John Brower.
For a home with an assessed value of $250,000 and a $50,000 homestead exemption, the proposed rate of 8.4462 mills would mean a county government tax bill of $1,689.24 on $200,000 worth of taxable property value. Dropping the operating millage rate to the rollback rate of 7.1663 mills, plus 0.2915 mills of debt service, would have meant a total millage rate of 7.4578. At that rate, the $250,000 home would have had a tax bill of $1,491.56.
The proposed operating millage of 8.1547 would net the county $98,188,240 in tax money in the 2023 fiscal year, or $15,064,780 more than it collected in operating millage revenue this year, while adding in the debt service millage would push the total dollar amount collected to an estimated $101,698,102.
The majority of the new money coming in would be allocated to rising personnel costs, including a new collective bargaining agreement with fire rescue staff, increasing health insurance costs and a state mandate for a $15 minimum wage, according to a county staff presentation.