Leon County Commissioners are working out the details of their spending plan for the coming year. County Administrator Vince Long says initial budget plans don’t include any property tax increases, but officials do expect to take in more money as property values continue going up.
“The growth that we are anticipating, commissioners, importantly will allow us to build back reserves drawn down throughout the recession and the slow economic recovery so that we could avoid any significant increases to the millage rates over the periods of time when the property values plummeted over the most recent years in our budget balancing history here,” Long says.
Some are raising concerns that the county maintaining a flat millage rate while property values increase amounts to a tax hike—since their tax bills will increase even though the county’s tax rate stays the same. But Long is pushing back against that idea.
“Let me just say that I don’t recall any headlines about the county slashing property taxes while leaving the millage rate constant over the years and years and years of constant millage rate while property tax values were plummeting during the great recession,” Long says.
Meanwhile, Commissioner Bryan Desolge says the county is providing more services with less money than it did when he first got elected to the board. And Commissioner Mary Ann Lindley says the initiatives the county is paying for are things Leon residents want.
“The huge emphasis on assisting the sheriff on crime fighting. We know the crime numbers in our community have been high in the last several years so this is an important partnership in that regard. Another one is storm water and springs protection, all the water projects going on that people want in this community,” Lindley says.
Long emphasizes that the county is still in the beginnings of its budget process. For example he says the property appraiser’s office has not yet released an official property value estimate.