County millage at 8.3307

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Will bring in less revenue than 2005

By Lou Elliott Jones, Editor

Levy County property owners will pay a property tax of 8.3307 mills — that is $8.3307 per $1,000 of a home's assessed value after exemptions this year.

The millage was unanimously approved, along with a $66,593,382 budget for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 during a poorly attended public hearing held by the Levy County Commission on Monday evening.

The millage is expected to bring in $13,020,020 in revenue for the general fund, which is only a portion of revenue for the budget. 

Commissioner Chad Johnson of Chiefland (R-District 2) made a point of saying that due to decreased property values, the tax will not bring in as much revenue as the millage did in 2005 when the county collected over $14 million in property taxes. But property values imploded with the recession in 2008 and have decreased every year since.

"At that time, Amendment 1 had not passed," Johnson said, referring to the ballot initiative that granted a second $25,000 exemption.

There are also exemptions for disability, military disability, combat status, low-income seniors, agricultural and conservation easements that also lower the assessed value of properties. 

As a result of the patchwork of exemptions approved by voters, fewer property owners are paying taxes. 

In Levy County, 45 percent of the property owners pay less than $200 in property taxes, according to figures released by the Levy County Property Appraiser's Office in 2012. Fifteen percent pay no property taxes, according to the same report. 

Johnson has, in the past, voiced support for property tax reform advocating the landowners pay tax on the first $25,000 of value, get the first homestead exemption on the second $25,000, pay taxes on the third $25,000 and get the second homestead exemption on the fourth $25,000. 

"Even today and looking at where we're at, we are lower than 2005," Johnson said noting the property tax then was 9 mills and raked in over $14 million in property taxes. 

"And knowing the cost of living is more than back then," he said concluding his discussion of the proposed 8.0337 mills. 

Commissioner Mike Joyner of Morriston (R-District 3) was on the same page as Johnson.

"Everybody needs to pay their own fair share," he said."This board, not me, have done a wonderful job this year keeping the taxes down.

"I am tired of these rascals," he paused to choose his words carefully, "sucking this baby bottle dry.

"We have to, at some point, get this to where somebody pays their fair share."

With that, Joyner made the motion to set the millage at 8.3307. It was seconded by Commissioner John Meeks of Bronson (R-District 1). It passed 5-0. 

The budget for the coming year was up next and with some last-minute adjustments presented by Deputy Clerk of Finance Sheila Rees. She said the total budget will be $66,593,382.

The motion to approve the proposed budget was made by Meeks and seconded by Johnson. It passed 5-0.