Here's Why Tallahassee Leaders Can't Agree on Proposed Property Tax Hike

City Commission Budget Talks
Posted at 5:13 PM, Jul 07, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-07 14:24:43-04

TALLAHASSEE, FL (WTXL) -- City commissioners went back and forth Tuesday in an effort to agree on how high to raise Tallahassee's property tax.

A proposed 27 percent increase would provide enough funding to hire 16 officers and 2 investigators for the Tallahassee Police Department.

The City Commission has until Wednesday to decide by how much to raise the millage rate, which determines the amount of property tax. Commissioners voted down efforts to raise the rate by 0.75, 0.85 and 1 mill.

Commissioner Curtis Richardson favors a 1 mill increase to a rate of 4.7. This would equate to the proposed 27 percent increase on the city's property tax -- an annual increase of 7 to 8 dollars for the average city homeowner. Richardson said close to 80 percent of the new revenue would be used to support public safety in Tallahassee.

"Policing is only one component of addressing the crime issue in a community, but it's an important component, and it's one now that we have been forced to reckon with," Richardson said. "Because as our population has grown, we have not kept pace with the number of police officers that are needed."

However, not all of the commissioners agree that the property tax needs to be increased in order to accommodate the new budget requests. Commissioner Scott Maddox says he's firmly opposed to the millage hike.

"We're just coming out of an economic downturn, and I'd hate to see us stop that by having our property tax increased," Maddox said. "I think it's the wrong time and the wrong tax structure. I think we can tighten our belt and make some cuts and be able to do what we need to do in this budget."

A millage calculator posted by the City online allows residents to get an estimated assessment of the impact the proposed property tax would have on your bill. 

For example, for a home with the value of $150,000 with a $50,000 exemption, the homeowner would end up paying about $8 more a month in property tax. 

Additionally, the City notes the increase in property tax does not impact the entire tax bill, and they say at 3.7, the current millage rate is also the lowest among comparable cities in Florida. 

However, some are still wary about the new tax. Leon County Commissioner Bill Proctor released a list of 36 reasons he does not support the increase. Among those reasons, he says citizens in District One, which he represents, oppose the proposal. Another reason Proctor says he opposes the increase? "My Sunday School teacher opposes the proposed higher City taxes," he writes.