County Commission approves $1.5-billion budget for 2022 fiscal year, which began Oct. 1

Total millage rate is 3.819 mills

This graph, which County Administrator Jonathan Lewis showed the commissioners on Sept. 29, reflects the changes in the county’s millage rages over the past two decades. Image courtesy Sarasota County

With no speakers present to address any issue, it took only about 25 minutes for the Sarasota County Commission to give final approval on Sept. 29 to the millage rates and budget for the 2022 fiscal year, which began Oct. 1.

The budget totals $1,535,552,427; that figure was unchanged from Sept. 13, when the board held its first public hearing, County Administrator Jonathan Lewis pointed out.

The aggregate millage rate for the new fiscal year is 3.819 mills, which is 5.09% higher than the “rolled-back” rate of 3.6262 mills would have been, a document in the back-up agenda materials noted.

The rolled-back rate represented the figure necessary to keep property tax payments at the same levels as they were in the 2021 fiscal year. Because the county’s property value went up close to 7.2% this year, as determined by the Sarasota County Property Appraiser’s Office, owners of land and homes in the county will pay more in taxes than they did last year, even though the County Commission did not raise the overall millage rate.

One mill represents $1 for every $1,000 of property value.

The Property Appraiser’s Office put the total value of county property at $70,173,143,449 this year.

This chart shows changes in the total budget from the 2018 fiscal year through the 2022 fiscal year. Image courtesy Sarasota County

During the Sept. 29 public hearing, County Administrator Lewis did note that the debt service millage rate for the bonds issued to pay for the North Extension and the North Port connector for The Legacy Trail was lower than the rate imposed in the 2021 fiscal year. The FY 2022 millage is 0.0649. For the 2021 fiscal year, it was 0.07 mills, according to a chart Lewis showed the board members.

During the November 2018 General Election, about 72% of voters approved of the issuance of $65 million in bonds for The Legacy Trail initiatives.

The final Capital Improvement Program (CIP) appropriations list for Fiscal Years 2022 through 2026, which the commission also approved on Sept. 29, shows that, as of late September, $64,469,410 had been appropriated for the Legacy Trail projects.

The general operating millage rate for the county for FY 2022 is 3.2232 mills, which is 5.36% higher than the rolled-back rate of 3.0592 mills.

This chart shows budgeted expenses for the county’s constitutional officers and other county agencies and programs, as well as county departments. Image courtesy Sarasota County

In approving the Capital Improvements Program (CIP) for the next five fiscal years, the board members on Sept. 29 also gave the formal go-ahead to a variety of other initiatives. For example, in the 2022 fiscal year, the Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Department (PRNR) has allocated $3,967,891 to the purchase of property for conservation purposes, plus another $2,645,261 to the acquisition of neighborhood parkland.

The funding for those initiatives will come out of the revenue that will be brought in by the 0.25 mills tax that property owners pay for the voter-approved Environmentally Sensitive Lands Protection Program (ESLPP).

A memo that County Administrator Lewis provided for the commissioners ahead of their Sept. 13 budget hearing noted that the ESLPP millage rate is expected to bring in $1,109,543 more for the 2022 fiscal year than it did in FY 2021. The total revenue anticipated for this fiscal year is $8,866,377.

PRNR also has budgeted $472,500 to athletic field improvements and $100,000 for upgrades to playgrounds and the purchase of shade structures.

Among other examples in the new CIP, the Public Works Department has budgeted $12 million to road resurfacing and $4.4 million to bridge replacements and rehabilitation.