Beachside towns’ budget officials cheer increase in property values

Increased property values mean more money for Satellite Beach and Indian Harbour Beach, enabling budget discussions where Satellite Beach is expected to hold the line on a tax increase with Indian Harbour Beach officials considering a small tax hike to get started on a new police headquarters.
Satellite Beach’s proposed tax rate is set at 8.1518 mils, or $8.15 per 1,000 of taxable value – same as last  year and the highest rate of all the municipalities on the south barrier island and the third highest rate in the county. That rate will generate $461,443 additional revenue, for a total of $6.7 million, because of the increase in property values. Satellite Beach assessed property values increased 7.4 percent from $788.9 million in 2016 to $847.3 million in 2017, which is very much in line with the county’s overall 7.5 percent increase in property values.
Of that amount, $144,677 will be transferred to the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency, because it was generated within the CRA district, so the remaining $316,766 is what the city has to work with. It will be used for staff raises, pension cost increases, healthcare increases and the 14 percent increase in Workman’s Comp costs, said Satellite Beach City Manager Courtney Barker.
There will be some money left over for long-planned capital projects including funding to make restrooms ADA compliant in the civic center, starting engineering for improvements to Jackson Avenue, construction of the Desoto (stormwater retention) pond, a new vehicle for planning and zoning, and new bunker gear for the fire department, she said.
There have been property tax increases each of her four years as city manager, but this is the largest so far.
“The problem is that we thought we would be able to do more with money generated from property taxes but we had a lots of cost increases. Most of my career I have worked in cities where I’ve been cutting the budget. It’s nice to be able to give staff raises without having to lay anybody off,’’ Barker said.
Indian Harbour Beach officials expect to have an additional $298,000 in revenues compared to prior year because of increase in property values. Total assessed property valuations went from $788.3 million in 2016 to the current year taxable value of $844.7 million, representing a 7.15 increase.
“We have recovered from the recession and as a result of the recovery and a healthy housing market we are seeing property values increase,’’ said City Manager Mark Ryan.
The City Council planned to hold the current tax rate 5.4802 mils, however, because a proposed new police headquarters was introduced late in the budget process, the City Council set the maximum rate at 5.6401 mils in order to generate an additional $135,000, Ryan said. From this point, the rate can be reduced but cannot be set higher during the budget process.
“We had hoped for the (police facility needs) study to come in earlier so then we could have included it (the new police headquarters) in the budget process but it did not. If the council decides to earmark that money for engineering on the new headquarters that at least gets them a leg up toward potentially building in 2018-2019,’’ Ryan said.
The additional tax money also will go toward pay increases for increased police pension costs and a 3 percent raise for city employees.

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