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Flagler Beach Sets Tentative Property Tax Rate 21% Higher. Don’t Panic: It Won’t Stick.

| July 26, 2018

tax rates flagler beach

Flagler Beach Commissioners Jane Mealy and Rick Belhumeur made clear they were not interested in a tax increase as sharp as proposed in a tentative note to be mailed to property owners next month. (© FlaglerLive)

When Flagler Beach property owners get the notice in the mail outlining next year’s proposed tax rates, they’ll get a shock. Their city commission on Thursday voted to set the tentative tax rate at $6.5 per $1,000 in taxable value, a rate 21 percent higher than the current rate of $5.36.


But don’t panic. The operative word is tentative. When Flagler Beach sets its actual tax rate for next year, at two budget hearings in September, the rate is likely to be significantly lower.

“I’m certainly not going to vote for anything close to 6.5 when it comes to the real budget, but for now this is just a formality,” Commission Chairman Rick Belhumeur said.

“I really don’t care what today’s number is,” Commissioner Jane Mealy said.

Commissioners agreed to the higher tentative rate at a meeting this evening (July 26) for three reasons.

First, commissioners have to provide the tentative tax rate so it can be mailed to property owners in coming weeks in compliance with the state’s Truth in Millage law. It’s what’s called the TRIM rate, for short. The TRIM rate is designed to give property owners a chance to know what the possible tax rates will be next year.

Second, by setting the tax rate that high, it gives commissioners room to maneuver below that ceiling: by law, they’ll be able to set the rate anywhere up to $6.5, but not beyond that figure. What is almost certain is that they’ll be going lower.

Third, commissioners haven’t yet held their first budget workshop to discuss the general fund and hear from City Manager Larry Newsom, who will be explaining why the city needs new revenue. Mealy had explained earlier in the day during a brief interview that she’d wished the budget workshops had been set before the TRIM rate was sent out, but that was not possible. The two workshops are set for July 27 and Aug. 1.

Still, for all the rationales at the meeting, commissioners did not seem to gauge the risk of a public receiving TRIM notices in the mail and taking the tentative number at face value, not having been privy to the explanatory discussion. Some residents are certain to be shocked, and to take their case to commissioners, however prematurely.

All other local governments set their TRIM rate after discussing it in budget workshops, making those government’s TRIM rate more closely mirror what the actual rates will be when they are formally approved. Bunnell earlier this week set its TRIM rate at its rolled-back rate–meaning that most taxpayers will not see an increase in the actual taxes they will pay next year, even after accounting for improvements in property values.

Flagler Beach has been trying to catch up on spending following the two hurricanes of 2016 and 2017, which hit the city’s bottom line hard. But he city last year raised its property tax significantly, and did so in 2016 as well. In the past three years the rate has gone from $4.70 per $1,000 in taxable value in 2016 to $5.21 in 2017 to $5.36 in 2018. For a house valued at $200,000, a property owner with a $50,000 homestead exemption is paying $804 in Flagler Beach taxes alone.

The proposed TRIM rate would push that to $975, not including the property’s appreciation, which would add another 3 percent to the taxes due for most homesteaded properties. But again, while property owners will see those figures in their TRIM notice, that’s not where the city commission is heading, even though the high TRIM rate signals that there will be a tax increase of some sort–and that Flagler Beach may yet again have the highest tax increase in the county in the last two years.

Mealy was clear about going nowhere near the proposed increase when reacting to the rate, after she was asked if he had a comment about it. “Not that I can say in public,” she said.

The public hearings when the commission will set the actual tax rate are set for September 13 and 27 at 5 p.m. (actually 5:01, in compliance with state law’s affectations on that score.)

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18 Responses for “Flagler Beach Sets Tentative Property Tax Rate 21% Higher. Don’t Panic: It Won’t Stick.”

  1. Fiscal says:

    This is what happens when you elect people WITH NO EXPERIENCE

  2. DRedder says:

    Your right they won’t get away with 21% they float that figure knowing that they’ll settle at 12 to 14% and tell the property tax payers we did you a favor.

  3. Lazaruis says:

    What do you bet that we dont get a 21% raise in our social security checks ??!!
    Maybe 2% or 3% tops .

  4. Discouraged says:

    They don’t care at all about helping the 400 homeowners who suffered damage during Hurricane Irma. Some of us had our homes declared a total loss and had to rebuild only to see the commissioners won’t do a thing about drainage on our street to help if we have another flood. Where are the people who care? What are we paying taxes for?

  5. Anonymous says:

    This is what happens when the same people keep getting elected….get rid of all incumbents!!!!!! Vote in some new blood and send a message that if they don’t work for US they will be voted out and replaced. This job doesn’t pay that much money, it is all about the big head. When you keep the same mind set with the same people in office you are going to get the same result. With thousands of people in Flagler Beach there has to be some with some common sense and integrity that can run for public office and provide to us the service we deserve and need. We need people that don’t have special interests with their friends and with their business and friends businesses to fill these seats.

  6. Terry John Melton says:

    And this is a retirement community with retirement income led by the same people that I have left in Harrisburg, pa, the most inept, mismanaged, taxpayer abused swamp in the country. Welcome to Florida…or we saw you coming!

  7. Mothersworry says:

    @ Anonymous

    Why don’t you run for office? You seem to have an opinion on about everything that is “wrong”. The last election, well it was a walk on. You remember the guy who was grabbed by the police for domestic abuse. You could have been the guy to walk on.

    So why don’t you take the plunge. If your going to talk the talk, ya gotta be able to walk the walk. I bet you won’t.

  8. Educated says:

    I find it funny how people in Flagler Beach are now crying. Take a wild guess what Palm Coast or Flagler County’s rate is. You live in prime real estate but you don’t want to pay for it. The rate wasn’t touched for years and now you have to play catch up. Boo hoo.

  9. Mark101 says:

    @Educated, you are spot on with you’re assessment. These people want everything for free or they want to have it like they did 20 years ago. But guess what, its not going to happen. They can elect as many new people into the Flagler Beach govt as they want, year after year after year, its always going to come down to an increase to support the bottom line and the infrastructure or no services or assistance. Like they say, if you can’t stand it, move.

  10. Commissioner Rick Belhumeur says:

    We had our first budget workshop Friday. We lowered the millage rate with cuts in the budget from $6.50 all the way down to approximately $5.46 per $1,000 assessed value. Just $.10 per $1,000 more than last years rate of $5.36. Maybe we can get some positive comments now!

  11. Bob says:

    Okay Rick, Thank you. You may want to start taxing non residents also by charging for parking to increase revenue. The comments here tend to suggest that Flagler Beach residents are getting some sort of free ride. Hardly, we live here and support the business here. We have to put up up with Bike Week, Daytona 500 crowds , the firework crowds, the summer vacation crowds etc. We are being charged for that through taxes. Those that do not live here pay nothing to enjoy what we have here. We pay for the policing,garbage pickup at the beach,firework displays,free shuttle service etc.,they get to park wherever the want. We are residents here and most of love it. We deal with the annoyances on a daily basis. The non residents are getting the free ride and are treated better than residents. We all purchased here knowing what to expect,to some degree, but the city seems to think that residents are not as important as non residents. Let the non residents pay a little bit here too. Yes I know the merchants will not like it but that can be handled by them giving parking vouchers to those who visit and buy from their establishments. Residents put up with a bunch of stuff here and we should not have to subsidize the free loaders.

  12. Rick Belhumeur says:

    Bob, I couldn’t agree with you more. Parking changes will be reviewed once again soon, so stay tuned and please help by getting involved. Public Safety alone now costs the taxpayers of Flagler Beach 3.35 million dollars a year. The city only gets 3.6 million dollars total in Ad Valorem(property) taxes. Most people just don’t understand how tough it is to maintain the city within its means.

    I wrote this article 5 years ago, long before becoming a Commissioner.
    https://flaglerlive.com/56286/flagler-beach-settle-rb/

  13. John Tipton says:

    For those that feel that their elected officials don’t represent them and their best interests, or that “SOMEONE” in town can represent their interests better than those that currently occupy public office, I say YOU should put your words into action by running yourself and/or supporting someone who is. I’m hearing too many excuses and shots taken (albeit that comes with the job and in some cases well deserved) at those that are actually SERVING and not standing on the sidelines complaining with no action to back up what they say that they need. For those that are already doing this, I say keep doing what you’re doing…those of us that aren’t, both the problem AND solution lies with the one that looks back at you in the mirror everyday. BE the change that you say that you want!! Get involved. I don’t live in Flagler Beach, but this is one of the reasons that I’ve decided to run for City Council in Palm Coast where I live. I hope to earn the vote of my fellow residents and to SERVE THEM the way that they need, want, and deserve.

  14. Concerned Citizen says:

    All this upheaval over living in prime real estate near the beach LOL.

    You all chose to live near the beach. No one is forcing you. And yet you don’t want to pay extra for it. Sorry not sorry. When you live in an area like Flagler Beach you’re gonna pay extra.

    And what’s up with this attitude of penalizing non-residents to come to the area with things like extra parking? Do you not realize that these pesky non-resident’s bring revenue into an area and give a boost to the economy?

    @ City Commissioners

    Fix your issues with your council like commissioners getting arrested for domestic violence. Instead of jacking up taxes.

  15. Sherry says:

    As a 10 year resident of Flagler Beach, I agree with you Bob. Those who do NOT reside on the beach side are often the first ones to speak out about how “we” should run “our” community. . . from the (envious?) perspective that we somehow are all live the lives of the rich and famous. Meanwhile, “we” should be responsible for maintaining a beautiful and pristine recreation area for the “day trippers”, that go up in arms at the mention of a parking fee to help with much needed local government revenues.

    Read the comments from “Discouraged” again. We should all be pulling together, instead of talking down our neighboring communities. We are all “human beings” doing our best to deal with the challenges and necessities of life on a daily basis.

    Saying that, local our politicians are certainly disrespecting us with this silly ploy of suggesting such a large increase. They are hoping we will be fooled into being “happy” with the, still huge, 10% increase they are hoping for. . .

  16. Bob says:

    Rick, very good article. You hit the nail on the head perfectly.

  17. Bob says:

    To Concerned Citizen, to enlighten you a bit we are paying for it through higher property costs, higher assessments and a City tax. We subsidize your weekend trip here, why would you have a problem with paying your share of time spent here? Those dollars you spend here do not go to us residents and very little goes to our town. How about coming down with a couple of garbage bags and cleaning up the beach?

  18. Concerned Citizen says:

    Bob,

    Since you are so quick to judge. let me enlighten you.

    I work in Flagler beach on a daily basis and help keep the area clean on a daily basis. When the Hurricanes hit I was some of the first boots on the ground helping recovery and clean up.

    Parking is already a mess and when I approach my areas of responsibility I spend a good 30 minutes hunting for larking at times. Forcing us to pay for parking will make it harder.

    Again you all chose to live near the beach. I live inland because I know I can’t afford it. And taxes are already high here and I have a single income.

    It’s not just the “weekend warriors” visiting your community but also the folks helping to keep it running.

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