Islanders may see reduction in property taxes

The typical resident on Brevard County’s barrier island will see a reduction this fall of about 6.35 percent in the property taxes they pay for most county services, according to County Manager Frank Abbate’s proposal to the County Commission.

That’s part of Abbate’s $1.29 billion proposed spending plan for the 2018-19 fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1. Abbate submitted his proposal July 13 to county commissioners separately.

They were scheduled July 24 to consider the proposed new tax rates, of which those affecting the barrier island are but a portion of the 25 taxing districts the county oversees.

The only taxing units that cover the entire county are the general fund, for services such as the county jail, the Library District, the Mosquito Control District, the Environmentally Endangered Lands management program and its debt service, which repays bonds used to buy and protect land from development.

The others are all based on specific geography, such as road and bridge construction and recreation. And the law enforcement and fire-rescue districts cover all the county except its cities, which have their own police and fire agencies.

Following the July 24 meeting, the commission is to hear public comments at two meetings in September before taking final action.

In his report, Abbate noted his $1.29 billion proposal, despite its reduced tax rates, is actually a 10.25 percent increase from the $1.17 billion budget the commission approved last fall. Half of that increase, he said, comes from $60 million in revenue from the half-cent sales tax for Indian River Lagoon cleanup projects.

Overall, the budget calls for spending $240 million on general government operations, up 3.38 percent from $232 million the current year. Those expenses are to be matched by similar amounts in various taxes and fees. But $148.6 million would come from property taxes, up from $143.2 million this year.

For the barrier island, the combined proposed tax rates to support the general fund, the Library District, the Mosquito Control District and the Environmentally Endangered Lands management and debt service add up to about $4.69 for every $1,000 in taxable property value. That’s a 6.2 percent drop from $5 this year.

The typical home on the barrier island is valued at $227,000, according to the county Property Appraiser’s Office. Subtracting $50,000 in homestead exemption, that home would be taxed at $830 to support the five taxing units. That’s a 6.2 percent decrease from $885 the current year.

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