Palm Coast residents will have a slightly lower tax rate next year, but, due to rising property values, many will still see an increase in their actual tax bill.
The Palm Coast City Council on Sept. 22 voted 4-1, with Councilman Ed Danko dissenting, to set the property tax rate at $4.61 per $1,000 of taxable value for the coming year. The current rate is $4.6989 per $1,000 in taxable value. No members of the public addressed the council during the meeting.
The council also voted 4-1 to approve the city's $248,635,694 budget for the coming year. It is a 16% increase over the current year's budget.
This is the first time in four years that the city has lowered the millage rate, but the lowered rate will still bring in more tax money for the city government in the coming year than it received this year, amounting to a tax increase.
A homeowner with a $200,000 house with $150,000 of taxable value will pay $691.50 under the 4.61 millage rate the council approved. They would have paid $704.84 if the council held at 4.6989: The lowered rate amounts to a savings of $13.35.
The council also decided to fund all 10 new Sheriff's Office deputy positions requested by Sheriff Rick Staly — spending $1.7 million more on law enforcement than it would have if it had opted not to fund the new positions — and will spend approximately $530,000 from its reserves.
The reserves are currently 27.4% of the general fund, which is higher than the 10%-20% suggested in city policy.
Danko, the sole dissenting vote, said at the meeting — as he had when he'd been campaigning for office— that he'd rather drink antifreeze than raise taxes.
"The only thing in this budget I like is giving our sheriff his 10 additional deputies," Danko said.
Danko had preferred that the city lower the millage rate to the rollback rate — the rate that would bring in the same dollar amount of tax money as the city received this year, and would therefore not constitute a tax increase. The rate the council selected is 3.38% higher than the rollback rate.