By Warren Richardson
SARASOTA — With little discussion, Sarasota County commissioners set the not-to-exceed millage rate so the tax collector can mail the annual property tax notices next month.
The notice, formally known as a Truth in Millage notice, is not a bill, but does serve to inform county property owners what their potential property tax will be once local taxing entities formally adopt their budgets for the next fiscal year over the next couple of months.
While the base millage rate remains the same as it has been for the past six years at 3.3912 mills, property owners will see a slight increase in the overall millage rate. That increase, which brings the total millage rate to 3.4331, is due to voters approving a referendum last November for a tax to finance the debt service for the Legacy Trail extension.
Each mill represents $1 per $1,000 of a property assessed value, meaning a property owner with an assessed value of $100,000 will pay $343.31 in taxes to the county.
By their action Wednesday, commissioners cannot increase the millage rate at this point, but they could lower it during the two public hearings in September to consider the fiscal year 2020 budget.
Before then, commissioners will have one final chance to work on the budget if they choose to do so during a workshop scheduled for Aug. 21.
County Administrator Jonathan Lewis has proposed a $1.3 billion budget that received preliminary approval from commissioners during their budget workshops in June.
“But for the citizens’ authorizing the increase for the Legacy Trail, there is no increase in our millage rate,” Commissioner Alan Maio stressed.
While that increase represents on $1.49 for every $100,000 of assessed value, property owners may still see an increase in their tax bills due to increasing property values in the county.
According to the final taxable values certified by the property appraiser and reported to the county’s budget office, property values in the county increased from $58.6 billion in 2019 to $62.3 billion for the 2020 fiscal year that begins in October.
For Commissioners Nancy Detert and Charles Hines, both took note of the county’s debt.
“We’re heading in the right direction on debt,” Detert said.
Noting that he’d signed several debt restructuring instruments over the past several months, and with commissioners approving two more on Wednesday, Hines said, “Our debt service just keeps going down.”
Commissioners’ action on Wednesday only sets the county’s portion of a property owners tax bill.
Residents of North Port and Venice will see a millage rate for their respective municipalities, as well as a millage rate set by the school board, the West Coast Inland Navigation District, and any other special assessments or millage rates set by other tax entities.
The notice will be mailed to property owners in late August.
Commissioners do have one last meeting left on Friday to discuss options regarding Sarasota County Area Transit before they depart on their annual summer recess.