Crystal River City Council members met for the first time after Hurricane Idalia in a regular meeting on Sept. 6. Matters that were to be deliberated upon at the scheduled Aug. 28 session, canceled as the storm was bearing down on Florida, were addressed in both the regular meeting and the subsequent Special Budget Hearing that immediately followed.
During the regular meeting, council members made the unanimous decision to push back until Sept. 11 Resolution No. 23-R-28 Indian Waters, Phase 1 Sewer Expansion Project Annual Rate Resolution.
However, Resolution No. 23-R-29 and Resolution No. 23-ER-02 were both unanimously approved by the City Council. The first resolution calls for adjusting the solid waste rate, which the city pays in tipping fees to the county. As City Manager Douglas Baber explained, the county has increased its cost, so he was asking the OK to include a 4 percent Consumer Price Index to go along with the increased fee, which will be passed along to residents.
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“Otherwise, the city eats the cost,” Baber said.
The second resolution calls for appropriating additional emergency funding in the amount of $750,000 to address issues related to Hurricane Idalia.
Following the vote, Mayor Joe Meek expressed gratitude that the city’s finances were in excellent shape to allow for the emergency allocation.
Following the adjournment of the regular meeting, the special budget meeting covered three items – appearing as Items 7A, 7B and 7C on the agenda – beginning with the proposed millage rate for Fiscal Year 2023-24. At the request of the council, City Clerk Mia Fink read aloud the proposal, Resolution No. 23-R-21, which calls for a tentative TRIM rate of 6.59 mills; that figure is the same as is for the current fiscal year.
“I do want to make sure we say that for the record, we are not raising our millage rate,” Meek said, and then complimented Finance Director Michelle K. Russell. “We’ve got a healthy reserve balance, Michelle. Thank you.” He then asked if anyone had any questions of Russell, which no one did. Nor did anyone from the public question or comment on the proposed millage rate.
Councilman Ken Brown, likewise, expressed his support keeping the millage rate unchanged.
“I’m watching all over the state,” he said. “Other cities are finally waking up and realizing they’ve got to raise their millage rate because of the amendment because they’re broke. So we’re in a really good position.”
Resolution No. 23-R-22 (Item 7B) called for adopting the tentative budget for Fiscal Year 2023-24 on first hearing; the second public and final hearing will take place Sept. 20. It is projected it will result in adding $7,527,103 into the general fund. Expenses are projected to amount to $7,519,043, leaving a surplus of $8,060.
The third and final item, Resolution No. 23-R-23 (Item 7C) regarded the proposed budget for the Community Redevelopment Agency. Proposed expectation on total revenues is projected at $5,561,198, while total expenditures are projected to come in at $4,544,593.
All three items were passed on first hearing with 5-0 voice votes in favor.
Second hearings on the above will be presented at either the Sept. 11 or the Sept. 20 meeting.
What is a ‘TRIM’ rate?
Every homeowner in Florida receives a letter from their county property appraiser about the second week of August. This letter is called a Truth in Millage Rate (TRIM) notice, and it is required by law. The main purpose is to officially inform a property owner what the Property Appraiser came up with as a Market Value (sometimes called a “Just Value.”). The Market Value is used to determine the initial basis of one’s tax bill.
What is a millage rate?
Property taxes in Florida are implemented in millage rates. A millage rate is one-tenth of a percent, which equates to $1 in taxes for every $1,000 in home value. A number of different authorities, including counties, municipalities, school boards and special districts, can collect these taxes. As an example, the owner of a property that has a taxable value of $100,000 and is subject to a millage rate of 5.2 would owe $520 in property tax.
However, in Florida, there exists a homestead exemption. This exemption is a valuable property tax benefit that can save homeowners up to $50,000 on their taxable value. The first $25,000 of this exemption applies to all taxing authorities. The second $25,000 excludes School Board taxes and applies to properties with assessed values greater than $50,000.