POLK COUNTY – The Bartow City Commission passed a rollback millage rate of 3.2768 on ad valorem taxes Sept. 23, meaning the city will be collecting around the same amount as last year after factoring in the increase of property values in Bartow by nearly 10 percent this past year.

As defined by Florida statute, maintaining the same millage rate during a time of rising property values is a tax increase.

Bartow Mayor Billy Simpson praised the budget produced by City Manager George Long and his staff. Bartow now has $44 million in reserves.

“You look around the county and I am proud to say that Bartow is going with the rollback rate, which creates the same dollar amount as last year,” Simpson said. “Many other cities are not doing so, so well done, sir (Long).”

This year, the Lakeland City Commission proposed raising taxes, as did the Fort Meade City Commission. The county maintained its millage rate.

Lake Wales Mayor Eugene Fultz had pride in his voice while discussing a rollback rate of 6.9339 mills.

The City of Frostproof passed a rollback rate of 6.9705 mills.

The only known tax decrease which passed this year in the county was Polk City, which reduced property taxes by nearly 10 percent to 6.0 mills.

“Commissioners thought we owed it to the taxpayers,” Polk City Mayor Joe LaCascia said. "Last year we had to be super consevative due to the then pending additional $25,000 homestead initiative which would have reduced the taxable revenue if passed. It failed."

The City of Winter Haven maintained a tax millage rate of 6.79 mills, 4.93 percent over the rollback rate according to city documents. Winter Haven Mayor Brad Dantzler joked that after months of hard budget debate, he was thankful that there may not be any more budget talks for six months or so.

“I think this budget is good — it's fair, it's decent, it's honest,” Dantzler said.

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Contact Charles A. Baker III at cbaker@d-r.media.

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