Jackson County Commissioners on Friday notified the property appraiser of the board’s proposed tentative millage of 8.10. That’s the rate the initial budget was built on when commissioners first received their working budget notebooks a few weeks ago. That notification to the property appraiser means that the board can now go no higher than the stated proposed rate.

Hurricane Michael set in motion a circumstance that the current county budget staffers had never seen before: The 8.10 millage is actually the “rolled-back” rate, even though it is higher than the current millage rate of 7. 84. The roll-back figure is typically lower than the tax rate in force at the time of deliberations for the ensuing year, since properties typically increase in value from year to year. But this year, without an upward adjustment in the tax rate, the hurricane would have swept 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 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.

The current 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 will 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 could adjust it down but that is not necessarily anticipated with the challenges that lie ahead, including costly computer and software systems upgrades possibly on the horizon.

Budget workshops have been going on since late July. They’ve 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.

Trim 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. The current plan is to keep that assessment at $50, but that could also be adjusted down or even abandoned.

More general budget-related meetings will continue, with some set occur on several dates in September, including a Sept. 24 public hearing on the final millage proposed.

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