DADE CITY — With one dissenting vote, the city commission gave initial approval Monday to a new property tax rate and budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
The 3-1 vote — Mayor Camille Hernandez was absent — means the current rate of $7.1 mills for every $1,000 in assessed property value will bump up to $7.15 as of Oct. 1, which is when the proposed $14.5 million budget takes effect as well.
An expected drop in appraised values puts the city's rollback rate at $7.15, which is the amount necessary to keep property tax revenues at the same level as the current rate. Commissioner Scott Black voted against raising the rate, arguing it could stay where it's at if commissioners would agree to forgo the raises they voted for themselves at the beginning of the year. The .05 percent the rate is increasing by is roughly equal to the $13,200 the raises will add to next year's budget, Black said.
Commissioner Jim Shive countered that elected officials have been getting the same monthly pay — $100 for commissioners and $150 for the mayor — for more than two decades and the time has come to bring the city in line with others of equal size. Black said there is no set standard for Florida cities when it comes to what they pay their elected leaders.
Black also cast the lone vote against the proposed budget, since it is based on the higher tax rate.
The budget doesn't include a salary hike for employees, but commissioners have agreed to give workers a one-time bonus around the end of the year. After a city employee spoke in favor of giving all full-time employees the same amount during a public hearing on the budget, commissioners agreed with him but took no formal vote.
A public hearing on the tax rate drew no response. A second and final public hearing and vote on the tax rate and budget is set for Sept. 23.
In other business, the commission:
* Agreed to contract with PayGOV.us, which will give residents the option of making online credit card payments for utility bills and other fees or use a credit card when paying bills in person at city hall. City clerk and finance director Jim Class expects the service to be available before the end of the year.
* Set street light assessments for two neighborhoods for the upcoming fiscal year. Lynan Estates residents will be charged about $284 per parcel; Pine Street parcels, $123.