Water management district proposes decrease in millage rate
An economic upswing has caused Putnam County tax rolls to swell, but the impact to those who pay property taxes is yet to be determined.
One of several taxing authorities in the county, the St. Johns River Water Management District was the first to announce its proposed millage rate for the 2019-2020 fiscal year. The agency announced it intends to roll back its tax rate for Putnam County taxpayers without negatively impacting its budget.
The water management district proposed a 0.2414 millage rate, a reduction from this year’s 0.2562 millage rate, according to a statement released by the agency.
Mary-Lou Pickles, director of the Office of Financial Services for the water management district, said the reduction in the millage rate was made possible by an increase in the tax base in Putnam County.
“Property values have increased, and there are new elements coming on to the tax rolls,” Pickles said. “New housing construction, new businesses and other factors like annexation have contributed to the expansion of the tax rolls.”
According to figures provided by the Putnam County Property Appraiser’s Office, tax rolls countywide have increased from a gross taxable value of $3.7 billion to $3.9 billion, a 4.56% increase. The St. Johns River Water Management District’s taxable value increased 4.57%.
If a taxable authority wishes to maintain its revenue levels from the previous year, it can enact a rollback rate, Putnam County Property Appraiser Timothy Parker said. Even though the tax rate is lower, taxpayers will pay nearly the same since the value of their property has increased.
According to figures provided by the water management district, the owner of a home valued at $200,000 with a $50,000 homestead exemption would pay an estimated $36.21 to the district.
“For the average taxpayer, they’re not paying any more in taxes [to the water management district] even though their house is more valuable,” Pickles said. “The economy is booming, property values are up but you’re not paying more.”
Pickles said the county appraiser would be mailing cards later in the year describing the millage rates to taxpayers.
To comply with state statute, the water management district will hold two public hearings about the proposed budget and millage rate. The first will be 5:05 p.m. Sept. 10, and the second will be 5:05 p.m. Sept. 24, at the district’s headquarters at 4049 Reid St. in Palatka.
The St. Johns River Water Management District is the first of the taxing authorities in Putnam County to announce its proposed millage rate, Parker said. Because of that, it’s not yet possible to predict whether taxpayers will see an overall increase, he said.
“The other agencies are coming up with their budgets,” he said. “We stay out of that process.”