Tuesday, Oct 21, 2014
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City looks at tax increase to balance budget

Hernando Today
Published:   |   Updated: May 7, 2013 at 05:55 PM
BROOKSVILLE -

City property owners are looking at a 3.3 percent tax increase and $106 or more fees for fire service if the city budget is approved.

During Wednesday's 6:30 p.m. budget hearing at City Hall, council members will consider approving a 6.58 mill levy and a budget that includes garnering $600,000 in fees levied to property owners for fire protection — a service already covered in the budget.

That means a property owner with a $150,000 home and $50,000 home exemption would pay $21 more than an owner with a similarly valued home last year.

Council members were looking at either the tax increase/fire fee combination option or increasing the tax levy by 17.7 percent from the current 6.37 mills to 7.5 mills.

Under that scenario, for someone who owns a $150,000 home — and has a $50,000 home exemption — he or she would pay $750 to the city, $113 more than the $637 the owner of a house valued the same would have paid a year ago.

In her letter to city council members, City Manager Jennene Norman-Vacha noted that even with the fees and tax increase, the budget is still a "Bare-bones financial plan," that provides no money for improvements to infrastructure, facilities, equipment or any capital improvements.

Vacha said Saturday that council members could still make changes to the budget, which includes reducing fire fees while increasing the tax rate.

"Council has certainly been trying to figure out the best way to look at this," Vacha said, "and I think they could pretty much make any changes they want coming into the final budget hearing, which is scheduled for Sept. 26."

Options that council members have considered include refinancing the debt and again implementing impact fees.

Vacha noted in her report that there wouldn't be enough cost savings to justify refinancing the debt.

As to impact fees, which are a one-time charge on new development to help pay for county roads, parks and other infrastructure, city staff members are waiting to see whether county officials decide to charge them or if they'll suspend them for another year.

Meanwhile, the proposed budget in its entirety can be viewed at www.ci.brooksville.fl.us.


jschmucker@hernandotoday.com (352) 544-5271
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