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Friday, Oct 24, 2014
Politics

Hillsborough tax rate falls, but values rise for bigger bill

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— Hillsborough County Commissioners set property tax rates today at just a little below last year’s, but homeowners will likely pay more out of pocket due to higher property values.

Commissioners set a total property tax rate of about $10.80 cents per $1,000 of taxable property value, or $1,237 for a home with an assessed value of $165,000 and a $50,000 homestead exemption.

That rate applies to homeowners who live in unincorporated areas. Tampa residents will pay a county government rate of $5.79 per $1,000 of taxable property value plus a rate to be set by the city government.

Property owners will also pay separate property tax assessments for schools, libraries, conservation lands and to support other government agencies.

For the 27th year in a row, the commission made a symbolic tax reduction of 1.7 cents per $1,000 of taxable property value for property owners in the unincorporated county. The tiny reduction will save the owner of a $165,000 house about 20 cents.

Property values were up by 7.3 percent this year, higher than the 5.6 increase the county property appraiser first projected in the spring. The higher values will generate an additional $5.3 million in revenue for the county.

Merrill congratulated commissioners for being “responsible” and “frugal” in their spending. Because of stable tax rates and adequate cash reserves, Hillsborough enjoys a AAA bond rating.

Only two other Florida counties have the rating, which allows them to borrow money at the lowest rates available.

In his budget statement, Merrill said strategic decisions made by the commission over the past three years have improved service delivery while reducing the per capita cost of county government by 19 percent. Unlike other counties, Hillsborough was able to balance the fiscal 2015 budget without increasing taxes, spending reserves or cutting services.

The county government has a $3.9 billion budget, with just $1.8 billion of the total from taxes. The rest is made up by utility customers paying for water, sewer and garbage service, as well as by government grants and pass-through funds.

msalinero@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-8303

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