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Jacksonville Mayor Curry will propose property tax rate cut as residents battle inflation

Mayor Curry said in a tweet on Monday that when he unveils his budget, it will include a "reduction in our city's property tax rate".

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — As Jacksonville residents struggle to keep up with the nation's highest inflation in 40 years, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry will propose a cut in the city's property tax rate when he delivers his budget to City Council on Thursday.

The city has used the same millage rate since 2013, even as the tax rates for the Duval County School District, St. Johns River Water Management District and Florida Inland Navigation District went down.

The booming real estate market has caused the city's property tax base to grow in leaps and bounds this year, prompting calls from some City Council members for a reduction in the millage rate when residents are facing soaring costs for everyday expenses such as gas and groceries.

City Council member Danny Becton said he's pleased Curry will use a lower tax rate for next year's budget.

"I hope it’s something meaningful because the economy and the taxpayers of our city are certainly in positions where they’re getting hit in all different directions with historic increases in inflation — costs of rent and mortgages and everything going up," Becton said.

Curry said in a tweet on Monday that when he unveils his budget, it will include a "reduction in our city's property tax rate" in addition to "investments in public safety, infrastructure and economic development" along with debt reduction and "reserves against future challenges."

He did not specify how much he would reduce the property tax rate that has stood at  $11.44 per $1,000 of assessed taxable value for nine straight years.

But in a form filed with the Florida Department of Revenue, the city shows a proposed millage rate of  11.3169, or about $11.32 per $1,000 of assessed taxable value. That would be a reduction of nearly 1.1% in the tax rate. Property-owners who have seen sizeable increases in the value of their property would still see bigger tax bills.

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Curry could propose a different tax rate on Thursday and City Council has the final word when it approves a budget for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1.

For the owner of a $150,000 home with a $50,000 homestead exemption, the current tax rate equates to a $1,144 bill for city taxes. That doesn't include other property taxes such as for schools.

Becton pushed in May for City Council to go on record calling for Curry to use a lower rollback tax rate in his proposed budget. Council defeated that resolution on a 16-3 vote. Curry's staff said the resolution was premature because City Council has the ability to make whatever changes it wants to after receiving Curry's proposed budget.

"I'm glad my resolution didn't fall on deaf ears," Becton said.

The latest preliminary figures from the Duval County Property Appraiser's Office show taxable values for the city of Jacksonville are at $81.86 billion, a whopping 14% increase compared to the $71.77 billion amount for 2021.

Duval County Property Appraiser Jerry Holland said that because the tax base has grown so much, it would take a significant cut in the tax rate to keep tax bills the same overall for property owners.

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The information provided by the city to the Florida Department of Revenue shows the rollback rate, which is the tax rate that collects the same amount of revenue this year as last year, would be 10.3761 mills, or about $10.38 per $1,000 of taxable value. That rollback rate is about 9% lower than the current tax rate.

The calculation for the rollback rate does not include the tax value created as a result of new construction that has sprouted across the city.

Holland said the year-over-year increase in the city's tax base is the largest he's seen in his time as property appraiser.

"It's a seller's market," he said. "They're getting a premium, and there's a lot of investors in the market when it comes to the residential. We have a lot of new residents with new apartments being built."

While the city has kept the same tax rate since 2013, the millage rate for the Duval County School District has dropped from 7.388 in 2013 down to 5.808 last year. The state Legislature controls the local tax rate for school districts across Florida.

The Duval County School Board is considering a 5.827 millage rate for next year's budget. The board had planned to meet Wednesday about the millage rate but rescheduled the meeting to  5:05 p.m. Thursday based on updated information from the state Department of Education.

The St. Johns River Water Management District reduced its millage rate from 0.3283 to 0.2189 over that time, and the Florida Inland Navigation District dropped its millage rate from 0.0345 to 0.032 between 2013 and 2021.

Curry is scheduled to present his budget to City Council at 9 a.m. Thursday at City Hall.

Click here to read the full story from the Florida Times-Union.

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