PUNTA GORDA — Property taxes could be going up by around 15% in Punta Gorda in the new fiscal year — the largest increase in nearly a decade.
The proposed change would increase the millage rate from 3.4337 to 3.95, along with a roll back rate of 3.3203.
One mill is equal to a $1 tax for every $1,000 of taxable value.
For residents, the proposed change could lead to a property tax increase of $146 for a home valued at $300,000 (17.0%) and $260 for a home valued at $500,000 (16.8%). These include both the millage rate increase and a 1.4% increase in taxable values for properties. This is the largest hike since an 18% increase in 2013.
At Wednesday’s meeting, the City Council will hear a resolution regarding the proposed rate that, if approved, would be brought back for a public hearing in September.
The proposed millage rate is part of a five-year plan for city personnel expansion, as well as operating reserves and other programs.
Assistant City Manager Melissa Reichert told The Daily Sun there is a proposed increase of 7.5 employees — mostly public safety — as well as equipment needed for service level enhancements, and increases in information technology needs, including an additional employee.
“The proposed millage rate funds a five-year recommended plan for service level enhancements,” Reichert said, “(as well as) to better match current revenues with current expenditures.”
She went on to say the increase will also support continued funding for the city’s paving and drainage improvement programs, funding for emergency vehicles and other fleet/equipment replacements, and to improve the general fund operating reserve.
At last week’s City Council meeting, City Manager Greg Murray said the increase will help the city move forward.
“We’ve just been maintaining and it’s not getting better because we don’t have additional time for staff to do those things,” Murray said. “If we want to continue and maintain to improve the city, that’s (the increase is) what we’re looking at.”
With its current lack of staffing, City Council Member Nancy Prafke said the city has been more reactive over the years.
“It’s almost like (we’ve been) playing whack-a-mole (over the years),” Prafke said at the meeting. “As the problems pop up, we’re addressing them as opposed to being proactive and addressing things.”