DADE CITY — City commissioners set a higher proposed tax rate for next year, amounting to a $50 hike for the owner of a home with a $100,000 taxable value. But they hope spending cuts in coming weeks will lower the city rate back to the current level.
Each year officials must set a proposed tax rate for budget discussions. The rate is shown in the truth-in-millage (TRIM) notices that go to property owners. Once set, that rate cannot be raised but it can be lowered.
Facing a $127,000 shortfall, city officials said they wanted to give themselves some wiggle room by setting a higher rate of 7.6 mills, or $7.60 in city taxes for every $1,000 in taxable property value. That would be a half-mill increase over the current of 7.1 mills.
But they hope to identify other cuts so they can bring that tax rate back down before the new budget year begins Oct. 1.
"Let's go higher than we actually need so that we have leeway to reduce it," Commissioner Bill Dennis said. "What else can a city do when it doesn't have enough money?"
Mayor Scott Black said Dade City could find itself in a bind if it set the initial tax rate too low.
"Because of the times, we need to direct the commission to adjust the budget with firm instruction of lowering it back to 7.1 or less," he said.
The financial pinch comes from rising fire and police pension costs, as well as other personnel expenses, City Manager Billy Poe said.
Commissioner Camille Hernandez cast the only dissenting vote against raising the initial tax rate.
"I had a sick stomach about this issue when I saw it on the agenda," she said. "People are walking away from their homes and I can't face increasing this 7.1 rate. Let's hold steady."
The city will hold its first public budget hearing at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 12 at the City Hall annex, 14150 Fifth St.