NEW PORT RICHEY — City Council members approved a tentative property tax rate increase for next year with the hope of lowering it before finalizing the 2014 budget in September.
Last week, the council adopted a tentative millage rate of 9.8882. Known as the rollback rate, it would generate the same revenue as the current year.
State law allows the city to lower the tentative rate before Oct. 1, but it cannot be increased. Council members approved the rollback rate — a 3 percent increase over the current tax rate of 9.5799 — saying they wanted to allow some breathing room as city staff works out the coming year's budget.
A mill represents $1 in tax for every $1,000 worth of a property's assessed value. The owner of home is assessed at $75,000, with $50,000 in homestead exemptions, would pay $247 in city taxes next year. That does not include taxes assessed for schools, Pasco County and other taxing districts.
City staff is a preparing budget based on keeping the millage rate the same. The city is proposing a $17.1-million operating budget for 2013-14, a 3 percent increase over last year.
Council member Jeff Starkey said he wanted the board do everything in its power to keep the millage rate where it is. Deputy Mayor Bill Phillips said he is optimistic that the city will have a more positive budget season than last year when the city laid off several employees.
"It was extremely painful," he recalled.
In other news, the council also approved hiring an Orlando labor attorney over an impasse with its police or fire union. The city has not announced whether it has hit an impasse with one or both of the unions, but anticipates the bill for the attorney will come in under $25,000.