Jackson County Commissioners started working through their budget books for fiscal year 2019-2020 Monday morning.
Their three-ring books contain more than 225 pages.
The cold, hard facts started on page 3: Without an upward adjustment in the tax rate, Hurricane Michael will sweep away more than $347,000 worth of previously anticipated tax dollars because the storm reduced the value of so much taxable property here.
The proposed budget is based on the rolled-back millage rate of 8.10 and does not include a salary increase or bonuses for county employees. The roll-back is the tax rate that would have to be imposed in order to generate about the same amount of tax revenue as last year, but slightly more – about $43,000 extra.
Last year’s millage of 7.84, or $7.84 per $1,000 of taxable value, would generate an estimated $347,084 less this year than last, primarily because of the property value losses that taxpayers suffered in the storm.
Charging this additional 26 cents per $1,000 of value would not require a notice of increase in taxes because the rate would not generate an appreciable increase in tax revenue to the county.
The board could have based the budget on a rate of up to 9.24, with a majority vote of the board, the maximum it would be allowed by state law.
The proposed millage is still subject to change – commissioners may adjust it up or down until it formally declares the proposed figure in a notice to the property appraiser. That action is expected on Aug. 2.The board could still adjust the rate downward after that, but couldn’t go higher.
The first round of budget workshop was scheduled to continue through Thursday of this week. The workshops sometimes last most of a day, sometimes the sessions are shorter, and the schedule is subject to change based on what’s accomplished from meeting to meeting.
The schedule is currently set to pick up again for five days on Monday, July 29 through Aug. 2. Thursday, Aug. 1 will include a special meeting during which the board is expected to set its proposed tentative millage, as well as a workshop. Aug. 2 is the day the board has set to advise the property appraiser of the proposed tentative millage.
Notices of the proposed millage will go out to property owners on Aug. 24.
On Monday, Sept. 9, at 5 p.m., the board will hold its first public hearing on the tentative millage and just after that will also hold a public hearing on the proposed special assessment for the Compass Lake in the Hills subdivision. This annual fee assessment for property owners in the subdivision is in addition to their regular property taxes.
Other budget-related meetings will occur on several dates in September, including a Sept. 24 public hearing on the final millage proposed.