NEW PORT RICHEY — Residents of Pasco County’s cities are getting a clearer picture of what their property taxes will be next year, and in New Port Richey they may see a reduction.
Under Florida law, government agencies must set a tentative millage rate part way through the budgeting process for the upcoming 2018-19 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. Once established, a government agency can come down from its tentative rate, but cannot go above it.
Therefore, New Port Richey residents are guaranteed a tax rate reduction after the City Council voted Monday to reduce its millage rate from 8.9 to 8. Individual property tax bills may go up or down depending on changes in a property’s assessed value.
A mill represents $1 in tax for every $1,000 worth of a property’s assessed allowable value. So on a property valued at $100,000, a resident under an 8 millage rate would pay $800 in city taxes next fiscal year.
The rate may go even lower for New Port Richey residents. Some council members said they will try to bring it down more as budget negotiations continue through August and September.
"I will be looking to see it go down more, but for now I think we have to keep it where it is to see what we have got to deal with," said Councilman Peter Altman.
In both Zephyrhills and Dade City, tentative rates ensure that property tax rates will remain the same next year. In Zephyrhills, City Council members voted to keep the millage rate at 6.35. Dade City commissioners approved an extension of the current rate, 7.15, and left open the option to reduce it. The Town of St. Leo set its tentative rate at its current rate, which is .70.
The Port Richey City Council opted to set a higher tentative property tax rate — increasing from the current rate of 5.7 mills to 7.7 mills. However, city manager Vince Lupo said the final number likely won’t be that high, if there is an increase at all. The council approved the tentative increase to allow for any unforeseen financial issues before they complete a final budget.
"I am hoping to keep the same millage rate," Lupo said.
Port Richey City Council members also expect the final tax rate to come in much lower.
"That’s our insurance policy," said City Council member Will Dittmer.
The same goes for San Antonio, where commissioners traditionally set a tentative rate that allows them a cushion and bring it down during budget talks. This year, San Antonio commissioners set a tentative tax rate of 5.5, up from the current rate of 3.85.
Cities will establish final property tax rates during public meetings in September.