DADE CITY — Declining property values may mean a tax rate increase for Dade City residents.
On Tuesday, the City Commission set a tentative millage rate hike from 7.1549 to 7.5621, with hopes of reducing it during 2014-15 budget negotiations later this summer. In Port Richey, the City Council also set a tentative tax increase of one millage point from 5.4348 to 6.4348. By law, government agencies can reduce tentative property tax rates they establish, but cannot go higher.
A mill represents $1 in tax for every $1,000 worth of a property's assessed value. So on a property valued at $100,000, a resident under Dade City's proposed rate would pay $756 in city taxes next year. In Port Richey it would be $643, though city staff there said the budget can be balanced under the current rate.
Dade City Commission members said setting the tentative rate higher provides "wiggle-room" in completing the budget. But Mayor Camille Hernandez urged staff to look for ways to prevent an increase.
"It just gives me heartburn to look at that number," she said.
In other news, the commission voted unanimously to enter into an interlocal agreement with Pasco County to take part in its 911 communications consolidation program geared toward streamlining emergency response. Participation will cost the city a startup fee of $99,165 and a recurring yearly fee of $91,265. All current Dade City dispatchers will retain their jobs.
Plans call for 911 calls in Dade City to begin being fielded by Pasco's communications center by Oct. 1, Dade City Police Chief Ray Velboom told the commission. The program will improve safety for police officers by allowing for better communication with the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, and better service to the public as call transfers in search of the proper responding agency will be eliminated, according to Velboom.
"It's the right thing to do," he added.
Also on Tuesday, the commission gave a glowing review of the first six months on the job for Finance Director Leslie Porter. The commission hired Porter following the controversial decision last year to split the finance director and city clerk positions, which led to the departure of longtime employee Jim Class, who held the hybrid position.
Porter's review from the commission also included a $5,000 raise, bringing her salary to $70,000, a bump the board agreed to upon her hiring should her first six months be successful.
"I think we should honor our word," said Commissioner Scott Black. "She has done a great job."