They tried. But it appears that rather than slash the city budget, the city council will raise the property tax millage rate to 9.27 mils, the maximum allowed. That means for every $1000 dollars of assessed value, after homestead exemption, homeowners in Duval county will pay $9.27 in taxes. The current millage rate is 8.48 mills, so that’s less than a dollar per thousand.
Special events will be restored, and Sheriff John Rutherford says he will not have to lay off the community service officers. But Mayor Peyton wants to restore about $1 million for the General Counsels office, and also to be discussed is three quarters of a million to restore library hours. It would appear that when the cuts really started to take shape, even the most strident budget cutters on the council decided maybe they had cut just a bit too far.
For those of us in Neptune Beach, that means that a 0.79 millage increase will be added to the 0.25 mil hike approved by the school board, and 0.27 proposed for the local municipality. That’s a total tax increase for this little community of $1.31 for every $1,000 of assessed value for my home.
In a year when our family income is less than half what it was last year. I never thought I’d be rooting for lower property values, but right now, in a very bizarre way, it’s the only way we can stay even.
The Jacksonville City Council from the outset left its self a loophole when they sent Mayor Peyton budget legislation that he vetoed. Council President Richard Clark had said taxes would be raised as a last resort, only if the savings could not be found in the city budget. It would seem that those savings were not to be found.
But now we have to brace ourselves for a fairly substantial tax increase. Mayor Peyton said “The average homeowner will pay less than 100 dollars more” for the city increase, which sounds affordable unless your income is substantially less than a year ago. But adding in the Neptune Beach tax and the School Board tax and suddenly we’re looking at something that could really matter.
So what do you do? Suck it up and pay, I suppose. I don’t see a lot of options, and hope that things improve enough in a timely fashion to make it OK.
What else is there to do?