Polk County raises property tax

John Chambliss @ledgercity

Jul 18, 2018 at 8:52 PM
Jul 18, 2018 at 8:52 PM

BARTOW — The county’s property tax rate will increase by 5.5 percent following the County Commission’s action Wednesday. The increase is intended to generate enough money over 10 years to purchase 39 new ambulances, hire 234 new employees and fund a new government center in the eastern portion of the county.

Commissioners Todd Dantzler, George Lindsey and Bill Braswell approved the increase of 37½ cents per $1,000 of taxable property value. Commissioners Melony Bell and John Hall voted against the increase.

The increase is expected to generate $120 million over 10 years.

In a slight change from earlier discussions, the revenue generated from 25 cents per $1,000 of taxable value on a home will be used for new ambulances, EMS employees, fire stations and new equipment.

County officials had previously intended to build more fire stations with the revenue, but County Manager Jim Freeman now intends for the fire fee to pay for some of the new stations.

“I didn’t want to have my successor have to staff all of those,” Freeman said after the vote.

The remaining 12 1/2 cents per $1,000 of taxable property value increase will be used for a new government center. That increase is expected to generate about $20 million and sunset after five years.

Freeman said he proposed the change at a Tuesday meeting before the Wednesday vote. The three commissioners who approved the increase were receptive, he said.

The rate will increase from the current $6.78 per $1,000 of taxable value to $7.15. Someone with a $100,000 home without a homestead exemption will see a $37.50-a-year increase in taxes.

Additional votes on the proposed $1.5 billion budget will be at 6 p.m. Sept. 10 and Sept. 17 in the county administration building.

John Chambliss can be reached at john.chambliss@theledger.com or 863-802-7588.

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