The St. Johns River Water Management District’s Governing Board voted in Palatka today to reduce the agency’s budget for the fourth consecutive year.
The Board unanimously approved a tentative $247.4 million budget that maintains the current property tax rate rate of 41.58 cents per $1,000 in assessed value for the 2010–2011 fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.
The tentative budget is 21 percent, or $65.8 million, less than the current fiscal year’s amended budget. About half of the budget funds would come from property taxes, with the remainder coming from state, federal and other sources, and from carryover from the current fiscal year.
As a result of an overall decline in assessed property values, maintaining the current millage rate would result in a 9.9 percent reduction — a drop of about $12 million — in property tax revenue to the District. That reduction will translate into a tax decrease for many existing property owners.
Under a the 0.4158 millage, or property tax, rate, the owner of a $200,000 house with a $50,000 homestead exemption would pay $62.37 per year in property taxes to the District. The owner of a $150,000 home with a $50,000 homestead exemption (near the mean in Flagler County these days) would pay $41.58. Taxes will be steeper for businesses, rental properties and non-homesteaded properties, which are taxes on their full assessed value, without exemptions.
“Preparing a spending plan for next year that again reduces the agency’s overall budget has been a tremendous but necessary challenge,” said Governing Board Chairman W. Leonard Wood of Fernandina Beach. “While this budget won’t allow us to pursue new water resource projects, it would allow us to continue our highest priority projects.”
Budget highlights include:
- Providing cooperative funding to local governments and utilities to implement water conservation projects
- Working with local governments on the exploration and development of alternative water supply projects
- Completing the St. Johns River Water Supply Impact Study that is evaluating the potential environmental effects of St. Johns River water withdrawals
- Continuing surface water restoration capital projects, including the Fellsmere Water Management Area, C-1 Rediversion Project and Lake Apopka North Shore Restoration
Public hearings on the tentative budget will be held at 5:05 p.m. on Sept. 14 and 28 in Palatka. Final budget adoption will occur at the Sept. 28 meeting.
The District is responsible for regulating water use and protecting wetlands, waterways and drinking water supplies in all or part of Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Brevard, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Indian River, Lake, Marion, Nassau, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Putnam, St. Johns, Seminole and Volusia counties.