This week welcomed plenty of good news including the celebration of Citrus County’s 134th birthday.
The Sheriff’s Office also had an unidentified deputy cleared of any wrongdoing following a routine investigation into an officer-involved shooting in which a deputy fatally shot a man who was charging at him with a knife after giving the man every opportunity to comply. This result was expected given the professionalism of our Sheriff’s Office but it is always good news.
The county had more to celebrate than just its birthday. This week Governor Ron DeSantis finalized the state’s $101 billion budget after vetoing roughly $1.5 billion in projects but maintaining all of the funding that is going toward Citrus County efforts. This is likely because Citrus is represented by State Senate President Wilton Simpson, but Simpson deferred the credit to County Commissioner Ruthie Schlabach when asked.
This week in statewide news, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried (D) filed paperwork to run for governor leaving her seat open which Sen. Simpson, a legacy Florida farmer with enormous Tallahassee influence, will almost certainly be considered a frontrunner replacement for if and when he decides to run.
Today’s topic comes from one headline that was eye-catching because of some of the words or dollar amounts used but that may be a difficult read. The Chronicle reported real estate sales drove taxable value up 5% countywide pushing the overall taxable value to $11.2 billion.
The first thing to do to better understand this issue is to categorize three major entities and their roles. The property appraiser comes first. Newly elected Property Appraiser Cregg Dalton’s office starts at the first of the year to determine the value of each property, something that will be broken into three parts in a second, but it’s important to note that Dalton’s office only sets the value, not the rates.
Next comes the county commission. There are 640 taxable governing entities in the state of Florida from cities to counties, all the way to school boards and special taxing districts. For the majority of people living in Citrus outside of cities, the county sets the milage rate over summer which will determine the level to which each property is taxed.
Lastly, the tax collector issues notices once the appraiser sets the value, the commission sets the rate and the collector begins the billing.
One mill is the root word of milage rate. One mill is equal to $1 per taxable $1,000 value of your property, let’s say it’s a home. To use round numbers, if the milage rate is 8 and your home is worth $200,000 then you would multiply 8 (the rate) times 200 (the value of your property in thousands) and your base property tax bill would be $1,600 before special district and other taxes are applied.
Here are the three types of values. There is just value, assessed value and taxable value. Just value is the true price of your property. In our example of this property being a residential home, homes that have qualified for homestead exemption for a year can’t be assessed at more than 3% their just value regardless of what the market is doing, a Florida law called Save our Homes meant to help people avoid wild variances in a tax bill.
Lastly, homestead exemption can exempt up to $50,000 off your assessed value of your home to further reduce your taxable value.
This exemption means a home assessed at $200,000 would only be taxed at $150,000. At that hypothetical 8 mill mark, this would reduce your base tax bill $400 down to $1,200 (8 multiplied by 150 instead of 200.)
Almost every year for the last five years, the county commission has voted to roll back the millage rate. This means they reduce the taxing rate to ensure your bill stays the same amount even as your property value increases. Last year, however, the commission kept the millage rate the same, and since most property values increased, so did people’s tax bill by up to 6%.
This is important because it is that time of year again. Commissioners will be deciding on a millage rate within the next two months, one they should certainly roll back given the revenue the county has received from federal stimulus funding.
This month started with a rush of good news and the commission could close the month in the same fashion with a decision to roll back the rates.