City residents to see slight tax-bill uptick

Though the property tax rate for the City of Port St. Lucie has been trimmed – by what amounts to a dime per $1,000 of tax assessed home value – residents can still expect to see their tax bill increase. That’s due to an average increase in property values in the city of about 11 percent.

The Port St. Lucie City Council on Monday night approved the recommended millage rate (also known as the property tax rate) of 6.3 mills – or $6.30 per $1,000 of assessed value. What that means for the city is $1 million less being collected, according to Budget Director Jeff Snyder.

Snyder explained that, though the city was trimming the millage rate, it still is about 6 percent more than the “roll-back” rate – the rate at which the city would have collected the same amount in taxes given the increase in property values.

The $410.5 million budget calls for a net increase in city staff of about 11 positions. Originally, the city planned to hire to 12, but shifting staff allowed the city to get by with one less paralegal.

Utility Services will see four new hires to accommodate “pretty explosive growth,” Snyder said.

The Police Department, too, will get two new traffic officers and a Police Athletic League director, which is a civilian post.

The Building Department will get several new staffers, among which will be an inspector, plans examiners and a permit specialist.

Mayor Gregory Oravec made a point of how much of residents’ tax bills are under the city’s control.

“We’re just a piece of it,” he said. Homeowners pay taxes to the School District, the county and other governmental agencies – not just to the city.

Snyder concurred, noting that Port St. Lucie’s portion of the tax bill is approximately 25 percent.

Neither the tax rate nor the city’s proposed budget take into account the potential outcomes of the half-cent sales tax referendum on the November ballot and Amendment 1 – the homestead exemption expansion.

City Manager Russ Blackburn said in June that the budget assumes Homestead does not pass.

However, if voters statewide approve it, he estimates the city would collect an estimated $4 million less in revenue.

And, if the half-cent sales tax initiative does not pass, the city would retool its capital improvement plan, which governs various projects such as sidewalks, road resurfacing and the like.

The council Monday unanimously approved the recommended tax rate and budget. The second and final vote is scheduled for Sept. 24 in the Council Chambers at 7 p.m.

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