Thursday, August 18, 2011

Surfside, FL residents may see reduced tax bills this fall after town commissioners adopted a lower tax rate

What you need to know: Even with a lower Tax rate, you may still be paying more in Taxes than you should.  The County may have improperly assessed your property/building.  The County uses Mass appraisal practices so they typically do not know the specifics about YOUR property.  We can look at your property and give you an idea on its value.

Surfside residents will likely keep a little more of their money next year after town commissioners adopted a lower property tax rate for 2011-2012. The new rate is $5.50 or every $1,000 of assessed property value, which is down from last year’s $5.60.

Martin Sherwood, Surfside’s finance director, said that nearly all property owners in town will pay less in taxes.

Surfside’s new tax rate still needs to go before the commission during two budget hearings before taking effect Oct. 1, the start of the 2011-12 fiscal year. During that process, commissioners can lower the tax rate even more, but can only raise it under very specific and costly circumstances — an option few municipalities ever exercise.

Sherwood said the town was able to lower the tax rate despite a 5 percent dip in property assessments.
The reason: City officials thought the dip in property revenue would have been even steeper, given the countywide trend in recent years.

“We had assumed a valuation decrease of 6.5 percent for next year’s budget,” Sherwood said.
The 1.5 percent difference left about $81,000 in wiggle room for the new budget, which is about $30 million.
Sherwood said the town will also be able to cut expenses by reducing its contributions to the employee pension plan, which is funded at about 114 percent, by about $158,000.

And while the town did not hire any new employees during this fiscal year, there are three new full-time positions that will be filled in the new fiscal year, including an assistant to Sherwood and an assistant to the town clerk.

Under the proposed tax rate, the owner of a typical Surfside home assessed at $250,000, taking the standard $50,000 homestead exemption, would see a tax cut of about $206.

Longtime homeowners who have benefited from Save Our Homes in the past,
which capped assessment increases at 3 percent a year, will likely see the least reduction to their tax bills. Save Our Homes stipulates that increases must continue annually until they are equal to the market value of the home.

Those figures only include city tax; the county, school district and other local agencies have additional levies.
The two public budget hearings are scheduled for 5:01 p.m. Sept. 13 and Sept. 26 at Surfside Town Hall, 9293 Harding Ave.

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