Jacksonville, FL (July 28, 2020) – As the new council year get well underway, that means so is the city’s budget season. During the July 28th Council meeting, Councilman Danny Becton votes AGAINST a 2020-2021 millage tax increase requested that would amend the budget Bill 2020-500.
With property taxes remaining at 11.4419 mills, taxes on $1,000 taxable property value will increase by a little over $11 dollars as a result of increase property value assessments across the city. CM Becton was one of the 11 votes against the 2% tax rate increase, leaving only six other council members present during the Zoom meeting in favor of it.
Voting against the legislation alongside Councilman Becton was Council Vice President Newby, and Council Members Cumber, Salem, Boylan, Wilson, Bowman, Ferraro, DeFoor, White, Diamond.
Voting in support of the millage increase: Council Members, Carlucci, Morgan, Gaffney, Pittman, Dennis, and Priestly Jackson.
During the discussion, Councilman & Finance Chair Matt Carlucci proposed amending 2020-500 to increasing the millage rate by one-quarter of a point for the upcoming 2020-2021 budget. The FTU reported Council Member Carlucci’s reasoning to increase the rate would enable “the city to generate an extra $16.6 million and give council a financial cushion during budget hearings with an option to boost investment in the city.”
“In all due respect, if you raise it, Government will Spend it. Our budget, this year is net of $35 million more dollars in ad valorem tax collections, then last year; and over the past years, it has increase almost $300 million since 2015,” Councilman Becton said. “When is enough, enough? Be fiscally responsible with tax payer dollars. Live within your means. If you don’t have enough, tighten you belt like everyone else in Jacksonville; I will not be supporting any tax increase to the citizens of Jacksonville tonight!”
According to the handout from the Council Auditor’ office:
“Resolution 2020-500 formally advises the Property Appraiser of the rolled back millage rates, the proposed millage rates, and the September 8, 2020 public hearing for Council to consider the millage rates and the tentative budget. To meet the State Truth in Millage (TRIM) requirements of informing the Property Appraiser of the maximum anticipated millage rate no later than August 4 without calling a special Council meeting, this legislation will have to be voted on as an in/out emergency the day it is introduced in Council, July 28. This is the millage rate that will be mailed out to property owners on their TRIM Notice. The “rolled back rate” resolution needs only a simple majority vote regardless of the rates to be included in the TRIM notices. The current proposed rate for the Beaches will require a 2/3 vote of the Council for passage in September. The proposed rates for the General Services District and Baldwin only need a simple majority in September.”
“Jacksonville has shown sustained resiliency to economic conditions as our city continues to grow and prosper. Even in the middle of this pandemic our city still shows increases in revenue due to growth in new residential neighborhoods and businesses that have taken root or expanded in our city,” Councilman Becton explained . “Unfortunately, our state will see a decline in sales tax revenue which in turn has a negative impact against our local increases but still we come out on a huge positive increase for the year.”
According to the Florida Times Union article, “the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 virus has cut deeply into some kinds of government revenue such as sales taxes, but for property taxes, which are the single biggest part of the city’s budget, revenue will be $50 million higher at the current tax rate.”
City Council Auditor Kim Taylor stated increasing the tax rate tentatively provide council some wiggle room when they undergo budget hearings and are reviewing Mayor Lenny Curry’s 2020-2021 budget proposal. Council auditors are still reviewing the revenue forecast used to construct the Mayor’s budget but Taylor said “if it turns out there isn’t a need for the extra property tax dollars, council can always go back to the current tax rate when it approves the budget in September.”
Councilman Becton said property owners are already going to see an increase in their city taxes with current tax rate with higher property assessments, and he believes this budget increase will do more harm than good.
The FTU quoted Councilman Becton’s opinion, which stated; “If we raise the millage rate, the government will spend it. “You can almost take that to Vegas and win every time.”
The meeting continued with each Council Member sharing their support and opposition for this bill. Aside for COVID’s financial effect on so many property owners, the council members added many more reasons to the list of why they oppose this increase.
Following the Council’s vote, Mayor Curry shared his support for Council and their decision to deny a higher property tax rate in a tweet, which reads: “A tax increase proposed by council failed tonight. I applaud this. My current budget has historic investments in neighborhoods. Many of which have been left behind for decades. Families are hurting. My budget makes these investments without a tax increase.”
A tax increase proposed by council failed tonight. I applaud this. My current budget has historic investments in neighborhoods. Many of which have been left behind for decades. Families are hurting. My budget makes these investments without a tax increase.
— Lenny Curry (@lennycurry) July 29, 2020
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