Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cutler Bay may raise tax rate to buy land for school

Cutler Bay is advertising a higher tax rate for the coming budget year, but the increase will only be needed if the Town Council decides to buy land for a school.


Cutler Bay homeowners could pay more in property tax if the Town Council moves forward with plans to buy land for a charter school.

The town will advertise a maximum tax rate of $2.8031 for every $1,000 of taxable home value, up from this year’s rate of $2.5888.

But Town Manager Steven Alexander said the higher rate will be needed only if the council decides to buy land for the proposed school. Otherwise, he will recommend keeping the tax rate unchanged.

Based on the higher rate, the longtime owner of a home assessed at $130,000 would pay about $230 in tax to the village, up about $23 from the preceding year. 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.
People who haven’t owned their homes as long may see a tax cut if their home’s assessed value continues to drop. Such changes in the market typically don’t help longtime homeowners because Save Our Homes already has kept their taxable values well below market prices.

Although plans for growth are underway, including the opening of Lakes by the Bay Park, Alexander expects only a small budget gap.

Though the town’s tax base remained about the same, at $1.7 billion in the past year, according to the Miami-Dade property appraiser’s office, Alexander said the council would not have to cut services or town jobs to cover a budget shortfall.

“Over the years we’ve been able to amass a significant amount of savings,” Alexander said. “We can use it to supplement a budget gap in a responsible way that still allows some savings.”
According to Alexander, Cutler Bay has a total of about $12 million in savings.

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