Residents of Flagler County and each of its cities will again see little to no change in their property tax bills next year as governments in a series of public hearings this month are adopting tax rates that either stay flat or roll back a little, with the exception of Bunnell, where taxes are set to increase relatively sharply.
Taken individually, each government’s tax rate shows some fluctuation over the previous year. But Every property tax bill in the county is actually a collection of a half dozen or more taxing authorities, depending on where you live. The total tends to even things out. So taking a typical $175,000 house in Palm Coast that hasn’t seen any value appreciation over the year, the total bill next year will be $2,623, a decrease of $30.
Under Florida law, a government imposes a tax increase even if its tax rate stays the same, as long as it projects taking in more money the coming year than it did the previous year. That’ll be the case for Flagler County government and Palm Coast, both of whose tax rates will remain the same. But since property values have increased between 5 and 6 percent, each government will take in more revenue even with the same tax rate. As a result, it’s a tax increase for property owners at the receiving end of those tax bills. But it won’t be a substantial one, except for non-homesteaded properties and commercial properties, which will see tax bills increasing between 5 and 6 percent on average.
The increase is somewhat softened for non-homesteaded properties, and significantly softened for non-homesteaded properties, by a tax decrease in school taxes. The school property tax is set by the Legislature, not by local school board members. It has been decreasing almost every year for over a decade. Even though school districts across the state are struggling to meet education requirements under the coronavirus emergency, it’s decreasing again this year, even more than rollback.
For that typical Palm Coast house valued at $175,000, the tax bill will look this way: a homestead exemption knocks off $50,000 from the taxable value, reducing that to $125,000. Everyone pays county taxes. That rate will be $8.2547 per $1,000 in taxable value, plus 33 cents per $1,000 to pay for county debts. Both are the same rates as last year, netting the county $1,073 in revenue.
“We looked at it hard, we did not go to rollback rate,” County Commission Chairman Dave Sullivan said. “We’re doing a lot of catch-up, we just felt at this point there was no way to go back to the rollback rate.” Shaving off a few decimal points from the rate would have amounted to a mere “symbolic” gesture, he said. (The county commission still has a chance to lower the rate at its n ext and final tax hearing later this month.)
Everyone pays school taxes, and the school homestead exemption is capped at $25,000. But Flagler schools’ tax rate is being reduced from $6.202 per $1,000 to $6, which is 0.46 percent below the rolled-back rate. So school taxes will fall from $930 to $900 on that $175,000 house.
Everyone in the county also pays St. Johns Water Management District taxes and Florida Inland Navigation District Taxes, and almost everyone–including residents of the county’s five cities–pays East Flagler Mosquito Control District taxes. But those three authorities impose relatively small taxes–$65 between them, on a $175,000 house. That amount is falling to $62.
The roughly $2,036 tax bill the owner of that $175,000 house will pay almost anywhere in the county must then be added to municipal tax bills is the house is in any of the five cities. The Palm Coast tax rate of almost $4.7 tacks on $587. Flagler Beach city commissioners agreed, after tortuous workshops, to go back to rollback, so residents of a $175,000 house there will see a decrease of $35 in their tax bill, to $661.
It’s be different in Bunnell, where the tax rate will go up a full point, or dollar per $1,000, from $6.43 to $7.43, assuming city commissioners ratify the rate this evening at their budget hearing. That’ll increase a property owner’s tax b ill from $804 to $929 (again, on that $175,000 homesteaded property). The increase will generate $216,067 in new revenue.
“We are looking at adding one new police officer,” Bunnell City Manager Alvin Jackson said, along with paying for increased operational costs such as an increase in the city’s Florida Retirement System contribution, and a 2 percent merit increase for employees, along with the installation of security cameras and the cost of a projected stormwater study.
Beverly Beach is reducing its modest tax rate below rollback, to $2.3 per $1,000, so homeowners there will go from $312 to $288 on a $175,000 house–understanding that there are few houses in Beverly Beach valued that low. So for most of the town’s residents, the savings will be larger.
A complete chart of this year’s tax rates compared with next year’s rates, translated to dollar figures, appears below.
Proposed Property Tax Rates for 2020-21 for Residents in Flagler County, Palm Coast, Flagler Beach and Bunnell, on a $175,000 House with a $50,000 Homestead Exemption.
|Flagler County School Board|
|County Debt and Sensitive Land Levies|
|St. Johns River Water Management District|
|Florida Inland Navigation District|
|Palm Coast Residents||4.6989|
|Flagler Beach Residents|
|Beverly Beach Residents|
(*) For residents of west Flagler, the mosquito control tax does not apply. For city residents, the total rate from countywide taxes is added to the city rate for a final tax bill total.
(**) For a definition of the roll-back rate, go here.
(***) The tax bill is calculated on a median-priced house of $175,000, with the assumption that the house has a $50,000 homestead exemption. So its taxable value would be $125,000 in 2017, or $150,000 when calculating school taxes. The tax bill figures for municipalities represent the aggregate of all school, countywide and district taxes in addition to the municipal tax bill in each respective city.
(****) The taxable value and the tax bill increases or decreases do not take into account the increased or decreased value of a property. Values have appreciated between 5 and 6 percent across the county, which would affect tax bills accordingly, with a 3 percent capped increase on assessments of homesteaded properties. So even though certain governments' tax bills appear to be flat, they will not be so when increased property values are calculated. Non-homesteaded properties can be taxed on up to 10 percent of their appreciated taxable value.
Sources: Flagler County Property Appraiser and local governments.