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  1. Pinellas

Gulfport proposes keeping its property tax rate the same, but raising utility rates

Gulfport City Hall at 2401 53rd St. S, where City Council members are scheduled to meet July 16 for a hearing on property taxes and utility rates. [City of Gulfport]
Published Jul. 9

GULFPORT — The city's budget season is underway with recommendations to keep the current property tax rate and increase monthly utility payments.

City Manager James O'Reilly's proposed rate of $4.04 for each $1,000 of assessed taxable value would give the city its eighth year without a rate increase. A home valued at $100,000 after homestead exemptions would pay $404 in city property taxes.

But individual bills could rise depending on a property's value. The overall taxable value of property in Gulfport is up 9 percent from last year, according to the Pinellas County Property Appraiser. That means the city could reap about $342,000 in added property tax revenue in the 2019-20 fiscal year without raising its rate.

The City Council is expected to adopt a tentative property tax rate in mid-July and must approve the final rate by Sept. 20.

Meanwhile, other rates are likely to rise:

Water and sewer

An analysis by Stantec Consulting Services recommends an 8 percent per year increase in Gulfport's water and sewer rates through the 2022 fiscal year and a 7 percent increase in 2023.

In a June 18 presentation to the City Council, Stantec representatives tied their recommendation to an increase in the city of St. Petersburg's wholesale water and sewer rates and a quickened timeline for repairs to Gulfport's sewer system required by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection in a 2018 consent order.

St. Petersburg's public works department notified Gulfport on June 7 that increases in the coming year to wholesale customers are estimated to be about 3 percent for water and nearly 12 percent for sewage.

Stantec also is St. Petersburg's rate consultant, the letter said.

If approved by the City Council, an 8 percent increase in Gulfport's water and sewer rates would increase the bill for a home using 4,000 gallons a month to $34.98, a bump of $2.59. The sewer charge would rise to $46.66, up by $3.46 a month.

Stormwater

Gulfport residents now pay $4.95 a month for stormwater management. Stantec recommends an increase of $2 or $4 in the coming year, depending on how much additional funding is needed for the city's multiyear culvert project.

An additional $1 a year is recommended through 2029.

O'Reilly said in an interview that the city "may go up to $2.50" for the 2020 increase.

Garbage collection and recycling

Recommendations presented to Gulfport's council members also include a 6 percent increase in monthly garbage and recycling charges. For garbage, this would be an additional $1.36 a month, creating a monthly payment of $23.97 in the coming year. Recycling would rise to $2.18 a month, up 12 cents from this year.

The first public hearing to adopt Gulfport's new utility and garbage rates is scheduled for July 16.

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