Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Atlantic Beach to Hold Final Hearing on Property Tax Hike

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Atlantic Beach to Hold Final Hearing on Property Tax Hike

Article excerpt

Byline: DREW DIXON

ATLANTIC BEACH - The City Commission is set to vote Monday on a budget that includes a 5 percent property tax rate after the final public hearing on the proposal.

The commission gave preliminary approval to the budget and tax rate hike after the first hearing Aug. 14. While commissioners support the proposal, some residents oppose any property tax rate increase.

"I urge the mayor and commissioners not to raise our taxes," said Bruce Fulton, a resident who spoke out against the tax hike at the last meeting.

But other residents and most city officials defend the property tax rate increase as a means to keep city services at their current level.

Monday's meeting begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 800 Seminole Road.

The rate increase is necessary to cover a decrease in tax revenues due to declining property values, said City Manager Jim Hanson. The city will have about $22.79 million in general fund revenues but will need to cover about $24.48 million in expenses for the general fund.

Commissioner John Fletcher said he sees no alternative to the tax hike other than hacking services and city jobs.

"I justify it by saying it's designed to be revenue neutral," said Fletcher. "We are adopting a rate that brings the same amount of tax revenue that we had last year and that we would have had if we had kept the rate the same had property values not declined."

While the commission gave unanimous tentative approval to the budget two weeks ago, a resolution supporting the tax rate increase brought a vote of dissent from Commissioner Carolyn Woods, who said she's still fundamentally opposed to asking the residents to pay more in taxes.

Woods acknowledged it's awkward to support the spending plan but not the tax hike.

"I don't think we needed to raise the taxes," said Woods. …

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