County Commission sets not-to-exceed millage rate

Board had made it clear to staff in June that it wanted no increase


The not-to-exceed county millage rates will be publicized in notices sent to taxpayers in August. Image courtesy Sarasota County

It may have taken almost 70 minutes for the Sarasota County commissioners to decide on June 21 how they wanted to balance the proposed budget for the 2018 fiscal year, but it took only about 5 minutes on July 12 for them to approve the not-to-exceed millage rates for property owners.

Having made their decision plain during their late June discussion, the board members this week approved keeping the county’s total millage rate at the same level for the next fiscal year: 3.3912. Staff had recommended an increase to 3.4912, but the commissioners asked County Administrator Tom Harmer instead to work with the directors of all departments seeking an increase for FY18 — plus all the constitutional officers seeking budget raises — to determine what they would cut if they had to halve those upticks. The commission’s final workshop on the budget is set for Aug. 21, when Harmer is expected to report back on his findings.

Harmer did notify the commissioners in a June 29 email that the taxable property value for the county had been revised from 8.15% in late May to 8.25% for the required July 1 report to the state, providing about $160,000 more for the budget.

After introductory remarks on July 12 by Kim Radtke, director of the county’s Office of Financial Management, Commissioner Nancy Detert made the motion to adopt a resolution certifying all the proposed ad valorem tax millage rates for the FY18 fiscal year and to authorize the mailing and publishing of a notice of the September public hearing on the non-ad valorem assessments.

Commissioner Alan Maio seconded the motion.

A July 12 memo from Radtke to the board pointed out that the total millage rate will be reflected on the TRIM notices county taxpayers will receive in August. “Once the proposed millage is certified,” she added in the memo, “the Board can lower [it] at the September budget public hearings, but cannot increase [it] above the certified rate unless each taxpayer is sent notice by first-class mail.”

The 3.3912 rate includes the county’s general operating millage of 3.2128, the debt service millage of 0.1317 — a drop of 7.25% from the rate for the current fiscal year — and the mosquito control millage rate of 0.0467. The latter figure also represents a decline — 11.89% — from the current level, which is 0.0530.

Among the non-ad valorem assessments are those for fire and rescue services for residential property. Image courtesy Sarasota County

No commissioner commented on the millage rates prior to the unanimous vote on July 12.