Last night, the Jacksonville City Council voted to keep the millage rate at 8.48 mills - at least for now. In this Q & A, MetroJacksonville.com explains exactly what last night's vote actually means.
Did the council reject the Mayors tax increase?
Sort of - last night's vote was not the final straw on the matter. This vote was required because the deadline to send out TRIM notices to every taxpaying resident of Jacksonville is approaching.
What are TRIM Notices?
By State Law, the City of Jacksonville is required to send out Truth in Millage (TRIM) notices to everyone who will get a tax bill in August. Normally, this would go out with the proposed Millage Rate that Mayor Peyton recommended. However, Councilman Clay Yarborough drafted an amendment that would keep the rate at 8.48 mills - last year's rate.
What is a Mill?
A Mill is the unit of measure (so to speak) that your property tax rate is measured in.
How is my property tax calculated?
Your Property Tax bill is calculated by multiplying your assessed value (find yours by going to the Property Appraisers Website here: http://apps.coj.net/pao_propertySearch/Basic/Search.aspx ) by the millage rate, then dividing by 1,000. So, if your assessed value is $150,000, and the millage rate is 8.48 mills, then your taxable value is $1,272 (150,000 * 8.48 / 1,000)
NOTE: Keep in mind that your tax bill will have other taxes on it, mainly School Taxes. These are not up for discussion right now.
What is Mayor Peytons next play?
Well, he can sign the bill, he can veto it, or he can refuse to sign it (which is different than a veto). If he signs it, the TRIM Notices go out at 8.48 mills. If he chooses to veto the bill (or refuses to sign it), then the TRIM Notices go out at 9.27 mills. According to comments Mayor Peyton made last night after the vote, he is not expected to sign the bill.
Where did the 9.27 mills number come from?
It is called the Rollback value. Basically, if no action is taken, then the TRIM notices would go out with a value that will bring the city the same revenue as the current Fiscal Year. Since property values have gone down, the existing 8.48 rate will bring in less revenue than last year. In order to bring in the same amount of revenue from the current Fiscal Year (2008-2009), the millage rate needs to be 9.27.
Isnt that almost the rate that the Mayor wants?
Yes. Interesting how that works, isnt it?
What happens now?
If you are a taxpaying resident of Jacksonville, you will get a TRIM notice in the mail in the next couple of weeks. This will tell you the estimated maximum amount that you will be charged for your annual property tax bill (at either the 8.38 rate or the 9.27 rate, depending on Mayor Peytons action). Meanwhile, the Jacksonville City Council will go through the budget to figure out how to cut the extra $65 million or so (this is the expected amount that the Mayors tax increase is expected to bring in).
What if the City Council isnt able to cut $65 million?
This is the reason that many of the council members voted FOR the increase. If the City Council cannot trim the budget, and does need a tax rate increase, then the city will be required to resend out TRIM Notices (which is expected to cost $200,000). Many of the Council Members who voted for the increase did so not intending to raise taxes per se, but to avoid sending out another TRIM Notice.
The reason that many of the council members voted to keep the millage rate at 8.48 was to challenge themselves. They know that if they don't cut the budget, not only will they end up raising taxes, they will have to spend another $200,000 sending out another TRIM Notice.
How can I contact the City Council to tell them my views?
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to tell them your feelings.
How they Voted
For the Amendment (Keeping the rate at 8.48 mills)
Bill Bishop, Richard Clark, John Crescimbeni, Daniel Davis, Johnny Gaffney, Art Graham, Ray Holt, Glorious Johnson, Denise Lee, Clay Yarborough
Against the Amendment (Raising the rate to 9.5 mills)
Reggie Brown, Michael Corrigan, Ronnie Fussell, Kevin Hyde, Warren Jones, Stephen Joost, Don Redman, Art Shad, Jack Webb