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Council sets tentative millage at 7.8702

By Staff | Jul 26, 2011

City Council struggled to set the millage rate on Monday, volleying over a half dozen numbers back and forth before setting the maximum rate at 7.8702, or $7.87 for every $1,000 of taxable value.
City Manager Gary King’s budget was proposing a millage rate of 7.9702, but the new figure will require an additional $831,000 in cuts from the budget, according to Finance Director Victoria Bateman.
Moving forward, City Council cannot raise the rate above 7.8702 but they can lower it. Two public hearings are scheduled on Sept. 8 and 22, with the final rate being set on the Sept. 22.
A council majority chose to ignore the proposed roll back rate of 8.2208, which would have resulted in a difference of $13 for taxpayers.
Now, council will have to work within the ceiling it set for itself, which is lower than what the city manager was asking for.
Councilmember Derrick Donnell said the roll back rate, which used a higher millage, did not mean higher taxes and represented keeping service levels the same.
“With only 25 homes remaining under Save Our Homes we’ve all been reset,” Donnell said. “Now we’re all facing the same $13.”
Councilmember Pete Brandt said he didn’t believe there are only 25 homes left eligible for the recapture rule and that those taxpayers, including Brandt, are facing a 6 percent tax increase if the roll back rate were used.
“I can’t believe there are only 25 homes in the whole city on Save Our Homes that have not yet fallen through their Save Our Homes assessment,” he said.
King said staff reached that determination through use of the county tax roll.
King also said previous efforts to darken certain light poles has been abandoned and that it was never his intent to darken entire neighborhoods.
“We’ll find the money somewhere else,” King said.
Councilmember Erick Kuehn universally praised King, saying the city manager is so effective he could sell Kuehn at an auction and the council member wouldn’t know what he sold for.
Kuehn added that setting the rate at roll back levels would likely mean it would stay there.
“If you go higher, you’ll stay there,” Kuehn said.
Mayor John Sullivan said not relying on the roll back rate would mean more money in the pockets of citizens and that would lead to more money being spent in the community.
“I’d like to give our citizens a break … they’ll spend that money on goods and services and help businesses heal themselves in this economy,” the mayor said.