Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Coral Gables may lower the city's tax rate. What does that mean

Below is an article from the Miami Herald.   This is good for the Citizens of Coral Gables but does it mean your taxes will be lower?  Well, that remains to be seen.  

The ultimate dollar amount you pay consists of two parts.  The tax rate and the "Millage rate."  The tax rate is released first, this portion you have the right to appeal with a Property Tax Appeal.  The Milliage you can not appeal.  

Millage is a term widely used by the Miami Dade tax collector. A "Mill," the route of the word, represents one thousandth of a dollar. "Millage Rates" refer to tax rates based on mills per dollar per the value of the property. Published millage rates always indicate the tax rate for the previous year and can be used to estimate future tax payments, but never to definitely predict them in the future. Tax rates can change significantly year over year depending on exemptions that have been removed or a change in the market value of the home.

The Millage allows the gap to be filled.  Think of it as an online auction.  Your tax rate is the sale price, your Millage rate is the shipping and handling.   The auction may have ended at $52.00 but you get your final bill of $69.00. 

The Millage is released AFTER your right to appeal your taxes expires.  Remember, you have to submit your appeal or you can not be heard. 

Keep in mind as well, you may feel your property is properly assessed but keep in mind the property 3 blocks away, that you feel would be worth more, could actually be 20% less.  Contact us to look at your property.  You have nothing to loose and a lot to gain. 

Contact us at


Coral Gables leaders say the city’s upcoming budget is headed in the right direction. City services will be maintained while the city’s tax rate is poised to drop.

Coral Gables City Manager Patrick Salerno plans to deliver some good news next Wednesday, when he informs the City Commission about the city’s proposed $145 million budget.
He recommends dropping Coral Gables’ tax rate to $5.869 from $6.072 for every $1,000 of assessed property value. There won’t be any job cuts to the city’s full-time workforce of 791 employees.
And while the city’s tax base remained essentially flat at $11.8 billion in the past 12 months, according to the Miami-Dade Property Appraiser’s Office, Salerno has not proposed any controversial budget cuts this year.
Last September, he recommended cutting the tree-lighting ceremony at the North Pole Village across from City Hall.
 The popular Christmas park survived the budget axe after residents inundated commissioners with e-mails and calls opposing the change.
 The commission will hold two budget hearings — one on Sept. 13 and a second on Sept. 27 at City Hall — before they pass a new budget for the new fiscal year that starts Oct. 1.
 This year, commissioners said they are satisfied with the way the city budget is shaping up.
“I’m very pleased he’s presenting a budget where we are lowering taxes and maintaining services,” said Vice Mayor William “Bill” Kerdyk Jr., who along with Commissioner Ralph Cabrera, voted against the budget and a 3 percent tax rate increase last September.
“While a lot of municipalities are raising their tax rate, the decrease is something our residents will be pleased with,” he added.
According to Salerno, “In discussions with members of the commission, they’ve asked me to strive to reduce the property-tax rate.”
Under the new tax rate, the owner of a home assessed at $560,000 — roughly the city average for an owner-occupied house — would see a tax cut of about $55, to $3,042. That assumes the owner qualifies for the standard $50,000 homestead exemption and that the house’s taxable value increased 1.5 percent from the previous year, the maximum amount allowed under the Save Our Homes amendment to the state Constitution.
Those figures only include city tax; the county, school district and other local agencies have additional levies.
People who bought their homes more recently could see a larger tax cut if their home’s market value dropped below their previous tax assessment. In that case, there would be no 1.5 percent increase, and the county appraiser should cut the assessed value to reflect market conditions. That would almost never be the case for longtime homeowners, because Save Our Homes has kept their taxable values artificially low.
Even though Coral Gables is expected to lose $2 million in property-tax revenue, Salerno said a combination of decisions over the past few years has helped the city administration avoid draconian cuts this time around.
“We amended the collective bargaining agreements and lowered pensions, we’ve reduced the number of positions and held the line on wages and reduced overtime,” the city manager said.
Since he became city manager in April 2009, Salerno said the administration has saved money by making changes such as switching from premium fuel to regular fuel for its fleet and conducting better oversight of its vehicles.
Still, there are some areas of concern in the budget. For example, the budget assumes the city will receive $1.9 million in rent and golf management fees from the Biltmore Hotel. But for the past two years, the city has not collected rent from the hotel, and both sides have been at odds over the issue, which remains unresolved.
A budget footnote says that if Coral Gables does not receive the $1.9 million in rent money in the coming budget year, it will have to find additional sources of revenue or have further reductions in personnel or operating costs.
Salerno said to make up that shortfall, the city would likely tap its reserves, which stand at $6.5 million right now.
The drop in the city’s reserves from $9.6 million to $4.5 million in 2009 was a factor last December, when Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Coral Gables’ credit rating a notch from an Aaa to an Aa1. At that time, Finance Director Don Nelson said the downgrade brings Coral Gables back to the rating it has had since July 2004. He said the lower credit rating would not affect the city’s ability to pay existing debt or borrow money in the future.
In other matters, Salerno said there will be a small increase in building permit fees to bring them more in line with the consumer price index. He declined to say the exact amount of the recommended increase.
And Coral Gables will hike its capital improvements budget to $8.4 million next year from $4 million currently. The bulk of the increase — $5.7 million – will go towards replacing sanitary sewer mains, lift stations and sewer pipes throughout the city. Money has been designated as follows: $750,000 for repairs and improvements to the city’s police and fire station, $550,000 for repairs at City Hall, $155,000 for repairs at the Venetian Pool and $103,000 for bridge and waterway repairs.

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