Palm Beach County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to craft the 2015-2016 budget using the same county property tax rates as the year before. The Civic Association was there to voice concern about increasing county budgets.
Tuesday’s vote all but guarantees the current tax rate of $4.78 for every $1,000 in taxable property value won’t be increased because doing so would mean sending out new notices to every property owner in the county. Lowering tax rates would not require the mailing of new tax notices.
After a pair of budget hearings in September, commissioners could decide to lower the tax rate, but that would eat into the $729.9 million in revenue the current rate would generate. And based on the tenor of Tuesday’s discussion — commissioners went around and around on areas where they’d like to see more spending — lowering the tax rate would seem to be a distant prospect.
During the meeting, Jack Borland, a Civic Association Director and Chairman for the Palm Beach County Government Committee, spoke to the commissioners, “With strongly rising real estate values, the (tax) rate should be reduced in this environment. Millage ought to be reduced at this point in the cycle, a sales tax increase or new bonding for infrastructure should be unnecessary in light of the new tax revenues from higher real estate values, and at some point you will need to rein in the sheriff.”
Rebounding from the Great Recession, taxable property values in the county and all of its cities rose by nearly 10 percent over the past year, exceeding the $150 billion mark for the first time since 2008.