County’s millage rate for 2020 fiscal year going up just for Legacy Trail bonds

Commission approves not-to-exceed rate of 3.4331 for TRIM notices

A chart shows the proposed Sarasota County millage rates for the 2020 fiscal year. Image courtesy Sarasota County

From the beginning of the preparation of the Sarasota County budget for the 2020 fiscal year, staff has focused on the County Commission’s direction not to raise the millage rate.

And, except for a voter-approved increase that will fund the North Extension of The Legacy Trail, and connections from Venice to North Port, staff has complied with that board direction.

On a unanimous vote on July 10, the commissioners approved a not-to-exceed millage rate of 3.4331 for the 2020 fiscal year, which will begin on Oct. 1. The Legacy Trail bonds account for 0.0419 mills, Kim Radtke, director of the county’s Office of Financial Management, pointed out during remarks to the board. More than 70% of the county’s voters who cast ballots on the measure approved the county Legacy Trail bond referendum on the Nov. 6, 2018 General Election ballot, Radtke noted.

The tentative county budget for the 2020 fiscal year is $1,298,220,471. The county’s overall property value rose another 0.2% between the late May report and the late June report from the Sarasota County Property Appraiser’s Office, a July 9 staff memo noted. (See the related article in this issue.)

The proposed general operating millage rate for this year was 3.2140; for FY20, it will go down to 3.2075. The Mosquito Control millage also has been proposed to decline year-over-year, from 0.0550 to 0.0520.

Finally, the voter-approved debt service millage for the county’s Environmentally Sensitive Lands Protection Program (ESLPP) will rise slightly from this fiscal year to FY20 — from 0.1222 to 0.1317. The 0.25 mills for the ESLPP is in effect through 2029.

State law necessitates that local governments approve not-to-exceed millage rates so Truth in Millage (TRIM) notices can be sent to property owners, informing them about the specific taxes and assessments they will have to pay. The Sarasota County TRIM notices are due to go out on Aug. 16, Brian Loughrey, administrative director of the Sarasota County Property Appraiser’s Office, told The Sarasota News Leader.

Commissioner Alan Maio made the motion to approve the not-to-exceed millage rates, and Commissioner Michael Moran seconded it.

This graphic shows the changes in county millage rates over the past years.The county would have taken in an extra $827 million if the commissions had kept the millage rate flat with the FY 2000 level. Image courtesy Sarasota County

Maio pointed out on July 10 that he always likes to underscore the fact that the board has kept the millage rate stable for more than a decade.

The commission lowered the millage rate from 3.69 mills in the 2007 fiscal year to 3.34 for the 2008 fiscal year; then, it raised the rate to 3.39 in FY13 because of the necessity of more spending on the Mosquito Control Program.

On July 10, Commissioner Nancy Detert pointed out another good bit of news in regard to the county’s budget for the next fiscal year. In reading material provided by Karen Rushing, the county’s clerk of court and county comptroller, Detert said she had learned that the county is not facing any increase in debt service. “We’re also headed in the right direction on [that],” Detert added.

Chair Charles Hines responded that he had signed several bond refinancing documents over the past couple of months. He congratulated Radtke and her staff for “constantly trying to find ways to save taxpayers’ dollars.”

The commission will take its final votes on the millage rates and assessments during public hearings set for Sept. 11 in Sarasota and Sept. 26 at the R.L. Anderson Administration Center in Venice.

1 thought on “County’s millage rate for 2020 fiscal year going up just for Legacy Trail bonds”

  1. I think it’s worth asking whether by “achieving” these millage reductions this Board is doing anything other than continuing its pattern of failing to attend to needed services and resources for the public sector. We are in a developer building boom and the parsimony of the county in hiring, in giving a damn about the people, is pathological. This Board feeds developers, who return the favor, at the expense of the rest of us. As can be seen in the $100 million failure of our wastewater system. And this isn’t all. More to come.

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