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.
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.