St. Johns County residents can expect to see an increase in their tax bills if millage rates presented last week are approved by county commissioners in September.
The St. Johns County Commission approved the recommended rates 5-0 on Tuesday, but the rates won't be final until they pass two public hearings at the county auditorium. The first hearing will be at 5:01 p.m. on Sept. 6 at 500 San Sebastian View.
The commission could still decide to lower the millage rates, but does not plan to increase them, officials said.
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The county is proposing to keep the property taxes rates the same or lower than the current fiscal year, which began Oct. 1, 2021, and ends Sept. 30.
But St. Johns County's overall taxable property value is estimated to be about 17.8% higher in the next fiscal year, said Jesse Dunn, director of the county's office of Management and Budget. That's expected to increase property tax bills and bring in about $40 million more to the county coffers in the next fiscal year through countywide and fire district millage rates, he said.
That doesn't mean residents will see a 17.8% increase in their property tax bills, though, Dunn said.
"The state of Florida, as you know, has the Save Our Homes provision, which is a cap on the valuation increase. As well, there are exemptions there, so really the average homesteaded resident is going to see anywhere between a 3% to 3.5% increase in proposed taxes overall at the existing rates, if the board were to move forward and adopt the existing millage rates," he said.
One mill is equal to $1 for every $1,000 of taxable property value.
So, for example, a tax rate of 5 mills for a property with a taxable value of $100,000 would result in a tax bill of $500. If the same property's taxable value increased, the tax bill would go up the next fiscal year even if the millage rate stayed the same.
Property taxes will fund part of the county government's recommended budget of over $1.26 billion. The budget will be considered and approved at the September hearings. By September, the recommended budget will be larger because multi-year grants and funds carried over for capital projects will be added in, Dunn said.
County residents pay a variety of millage rates to fund the budget, and some pay additional millage rates for special efforts in their areas such as lighting and beach projects.
The St. Johns County School District, the cities of St. Augustine and St. Augustine Beach and special districts such as the Anastasia Mosquito Control District are separate entities that levy their own property taxes.
St. Johns County's proposed millage rates
The St. Johns County government's proposed millage rates are as follows. The rolled back rate is what the county would need to charge to bring in the same amount of property tax revenue in the next fiscal year.
Charged countywide, the General Fund is proposed to stay at 4.6537 mills. Rolled back rate: 4.1201. The General Fund goes toward a wide variety of government services in the county, including libraries, emergency medical services, recreation, housing and social service programs, economic development, constitutional officers such as the sheriff's office, facility maintenance, emergency management and animal control, among other things, Dunn said.
Charged countywide, the County Transportation Trust Fund is proposed to stay at 0.8444 mills. Rolled back rate: 0.7459. This fund helps with building and maintaining roadway infrastructure, drainage and pavement, he said.
Charged countywide, the County Health Unit Trust Fund is proposed to stay at 0.0160. Rolled back rate: 0.0141. Funding goes toward the county's health department, Dunn said.
The Fire District is charged countywide except for the city of St. Augustine, which has its own fire services. The millage rate is expected to stay at 1.3813. Rolled back rate: 1.2202. This funds most of the county fire rescue program.
The St. Augustine South Street Lighting District is proposed to go from 0.1968 to 0.1350. Rolled back rate: 0.1712.
The Vilano Street Lighting District is proposed to go from 0.0473 mills to 0.0320 mills. Rolled back rate: 0.0404.
The Summerhaven MSTU is proposed to stay at 7.3392. Rolled back rate: 5.7806. This goes toward erosion-related projects and other efforts to help strengthen the area.
The Coastal Highway MSTU for beach efforts is proposed to stay at 0.5 mills. Rolled back rate: 0.4036 mills. This and the following MSTU's are for beach and dune restoration projects in parts of the county, and only people in the boundaries of each MSTU pay these millage rates.
The South Ponte Vedra Beach Dune & Beach Restoration MSTU is proposed to be at 2 mills.
The Serenata Beach MSTU is proposed at .55 mills.
The county's recommended millage rates will go to the county property appraiser so that a notice can be mailed to property owners in St. Johns County advising them of the recommended tax rates.
Properties in the city of St. Augustine and St. Augustine Beach pay their city's millage rates in addition to county and other millage rates.
For example, a residential property in the city of St. Augustine with a taxable value of $567,485 and an exemption of $50,000 paid $11,118.65 in taxes for the 2021 tax year, according to the St. Johns County Tax Collector's office.
The total millage levied on that property was 19.3368, which was a combination of millage rates from the city of St. Augustine, which levies 7.5 mills; the county's General Fund, Transportation Trust fund, and County Health Unit Trust Fund; as well as school-related millage rates and millage rates from the St. Johns River Water Management District, the Anastasia Mosquito Control District, the Florida Inland Navigation District and the St. Augustine Port, Waterway & Beach District.
On November's general election ballot, county residents will decided whether to adopt a 10-year sales tax increase from 6.5-7.5 cents on the dollar to go toward infrastructure projects. That will also influence the county's budget planning, Dunn said.
This article originally appeared on St. Augustine Record: St. Johns County homeowners could see property tax bill increase