Pasco County's five municipalities have set their state-mandated tentative property tax rates, with New Port Richey assuring a reduction.
Zephyrhills is the only city staying at the same rate. Others have set a cushion, with an eye toward coming down from their tentative rates for the 2017-18 budget year, which begins Oct. 1.
As the cities continue to craft their budgets for public hearings in September, they are tasked by the state with setting tentative millage rates that must be advertised to the public. State law allows for governmental bodies to later decrease their rates, but once a tentative rate is advertised, it cannot be increased, which led several cities to build in a cushion from which they intend to come down.
Last week, New Port Richey assured city property owners a millage rate deduction by setting its tentative rate at 9.05 mills, down from the current 9.15. It could go even lower, as some City Council members urged the staff to balance the budget at a rate of 9 mills. A mill represents $1 in tax for every $1,000 worth of a property's assessed value. So on a property valued at $100,000 after taking a homestead exemption, a rate of 9 mills means the owner would pay $900 in city taxes next year.
Municipalities and other governmental bodies in Pasco are benefiting this year from a significant increase in property values across the county.
In Zephyrhills, the City Council decided to leave its rate as is, setting the tentative rate at 6.35 mills, which is the current rate.
Other cities went the route of setting tentative increases, with staffs in Port Richey, Dade City and San Antonio all pledging likely reductions as the budget season plays out.
Port Richey set the biggest tentative rate increase, going from 5.7557 mills to 7.2423 mills, but staffers said the budget can be balanced with a much lower final rate.
In Dade City, the commission set a tentative millage rate of 7.34, up from 7.14, but directed the staff to the balance the budget using the current rate.
In San Antonio, the City Commission also approved a tentative increase, going from 3.5750 mills to 5 mills, but with an eye toward reducing it.