County Commission votes to raise property taxes


Property owners in Indian River County will pay slightly more in taxes in the upcoming budget year due to increased costs at the crowded county jail and other expenses in the Sheriff’s Department and large infrastructure improvement projects put on hold during the economic downturn a decade ago. The amount of the increase will depend on where the property is in the county.

The Indian River County Commission at a July 17 budget workshop unanimously approved a 1.6-percent countywide property tax increase to $3.80 per $1,000 of assessed property value that will impact all property owners.

The board also rubber-stamped a 7.2-percent tax hike to $1.15 per $1,000 assessed property value for the Municipal Service Taxing Unit fund, which funds part of the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office operations, the recreation and planning departments and a portion of road maintenance in unincorporated areas of the county. Only property owners in the unincorporated county will be impacted by the MSTU tax increase.

The commission also approved a 9.16-percent decrease in the county’s land acquisition 2004 bond tax for property owners countywide, slightly offsetting the property tax increase, county officials said.

A home with an assessed value of $200,000 and a homestead exemption of $50,000 located within one of the county’s several cities will see an increase of $13.07 in property taxes next budget year and a decrease of $3.89 toward the land acquisition fund, which was used to buy conservation land in the county, for a net increase of $9.18.

Property owners with the same value and homestead exemption in unincorporated areas of the county will pay an additional $29.95 in taxes – $13.07 in extra property tax plus $20.77 due to the MSTU rate hike – minus the cut in the land acquisition tax, county documents show.

The figures will appear on state-mandated Truth in Millage – or TRIM – notices that show the tentative tax rate, which can be lowered by the commission before the final budget is approved. The notices are mailed in August by the property appraiser to give property owners a glimpse of their potential tax bills before all taxing authorities approve their budgets in September and final bills are sent in November.

Factors contributing to commissioner’s decision to raise taxes include a $3.3-million increase in Indian River County Sheriff Deryl Loar’s budget and a long list of deferred maintenance and capital projects, such as replacing vehicles and machinery, repairing building and improving roads and bridges.

“The county continues to increase our focus on catching up on deferred maintenance and capital item replacement,” County Administrator Jason Brown wrote in his proposed budget. “A departmental review earlier this year revealed a total backlog of $44 million across the county.”

The county’s total proposed 2019-2020 budget is $367.7 million, which includes the Sheriff’s Department’s $55.2-million budget.

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