NEW PORT RICHEY — City leaders have given themselves some budgetary wiggle room in setting a tentative property tax rate hike, but the increase is not likely to stick.
The City Council sought to account for unforeseen expenses during budget negotiations later this summer. By law, the council can reduce the tentative rate but cannot increase it once it's set.
City staff say the budget can be balanced at the current property tax rate of 9.5799 mills. A mill represents $1 in tax for every $1,000 worth of a property's assessed value. On a property valued at $100,000, city taxes under the current rate would amount to $957 next year.
Council member Bill Phillips said he is shooting for a millage rate reduction to 9.5, but called for the board to set the tentative rate higher and then reduce it as negotiations continue.
"I just don't want to back ourselves into a situation where we have no flexibility," Phillips said.
The council agreed and set the tentative rate at 9.7 mills. The board also set the first of two final public hearings on the millage rate for Sept. 3.