Hillsborough County cuts tax rate a tiny bit

TAMPA — Property tax rates will decrease in Hillsborough County, but the average homeowner will only save about 50 cents next year.

The Hillsborough County staff announced Friday a rate cut of 3.7 cents for every $10,000 of taxable property value in unincorporated Hillsborough County.

And since overall taxable property values didn't slump as severely as anticipated, the county was able to restore some cuts that had been in the works.

The modest tax cut does come at a tough time for the county, which planned to slash $87-million from its 2009 budget. But Hillsborough County commissioners have made it clear in recent hearings that they weren't going to raise taxes, even though County Administrator Pat Bean recommended a slight hike.

County commissioners haven't raised property taxes for 15 years.

The proposed rate for 2009 is about $10.81 for every $1,000 of taxable property value. That's a 0.37 cent decrease.

A resident of unincorporated Hillsborough County would pay $1,621.65 in taxes for a $200,000 house that is eligible for $50,000 in homestead exemptions. The homeowner would save about 55 cents from the cut.

To be able to reduce taxes, commissioners made several more budget cuts Thursday, including about $500,000 from the Communications Department, which eliminated town hall meetings. They also reduced money set aside for transportation plan studies by $1.3-million.

But they were able to restore millions of dollars in other services and jobs that initially had been recommended for cuts.

Commissioners voted to fill the minority business enterprise manager position and fund programs recommended for cuts, including the Crisis Center, Boy Scouts, Victims Assistance and after-school and summer programs at county parks.

They also restored 25 full-time positions in the parks program, and they expanded the Combat Grant Program by about $800,000 to provide a one-time grant of $750 to service members who have been renting for the past year.

Commissioners were able to vote to restore the millions in services because the taxable property value available hasn't decreased as much as they anticipated, budget director Eric Johnson said. They picked up about $5-million when the property appraiser updated property valuations in July, he said.

Also, the cost of afterschool and summer programs at county parks will be mitigated by a weekly $5 to $30 sliding fee per child.

The tax rate must go through two public hearings before it becomes official.

Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at jvandervelde@sptimes.com or (813) 661-2443.

.Fast facts

Budget hearing

Commissioners will meet at 6 p.m. Sept. 9 in the Second Floor Board Room at the County Building, 601 E Kennedy Blvd.

Hillsborough County cuts tax rate a tiny bit 07/31/08 [Last modified: Thursday, July 31, 2008 11:09pm]

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