Palm Beach County property owners may have to pay up to 15 percent more in taxes
Palm Beach Post - Link to Article
By Jennifer Sorentrue
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
WEST PALM BEACH - Palm Beach County commissioner will be asked Monday to consider increasing the county's property tax rate by even more than the 13.5 percent hike that administrators proposed last week.
County Administrator Bob Weisman said today that he will recommend commissioners approve a 15.6 percent rate increase to help offset part of a potential $130 million property tax shortfall.
County budget managers had been bracing for a 12 percent drop in countywide taxable values. But last week, Property Appraiser Gary Nikolits told the county that the drop was sharper than expected.
So today, Weisman said the rate would need to rise 15.6 percent to generate the same tax revenue as the county collected last year.
Weisman stressed that the rate increase is not a tax hike. The owners of commercial property and homesteaded residents who recently purchased their homes would actually see their county taxes fall, he said.
Still, many county taxpayers - especially those who purchased before the real estate boom - will pay more than they did this year.
Under the new proposal, the countywide tax rate would jump to $4.37 for each $1,000 of taxable value, up from about $3.78 this year. Last week, Weisman proposed a rate of $4.29.
At the highest rate, the owner of a $250,000 home with a $50,000 homestead exemption would pay about $875 in county taxes next year, up about $119 from this year's bill. That's a 15.7 percent increase.
Those figures don't include what property owners pay to the school board, city governments and other taxing bodies.
Commissioners will discuss the new proposal at 9:30 a.m. Monday at the county's headquarters, 301 N. Olive Ave. in West Palm Beach.
Commissioner Steven Abrams said he had not seen Weisman's memo to the board on the new tax rate proposal. He said he is still weighing the possibility of a tax rate increase.
"It is just a horrendous budget year," Abrams said. "I am obviously well aware of the challenges we are facing."
County administrators have proposed laying off 175 employees and eliminating an additional 111 vacant positions to help ease the financial bleeding. Operating hours at several recreational facilities will also be reduced.