The St Johns County Board of Commissioners heard from the highest paid administrator in its 193-year-history this morning; during a budget workshop that left some Historic City News readers and members of conservative taxpayer groups shaking their collective heads in disbelief.
Michael D. Wanchick stood stoic, indifferent, and apathetic to the plight of the families in St Johns County this morning, in the hallowed halls of the county auditorium; where the public has been, and continues to be, treated and accused of being “outsiders” — at least by Commissioner Ron Sanchez.
The five elected commissioners approved Wanchick’s tentative millage rate proposal today in order that the Tax Collector can prepare and mail a notice to all property owners of the proposed property taxes accumulated from the various taxing authorities for Fiscal Year 2015.
Wanchick has proposed that the millage rates be the same as last year, including the 5.39 millage rate for the county’s general fund. That DOES NOT mean that you will pay the same amount of money this year, if the final budget is approved, because the values of many of the properties in the county have risen.
Again this year, as in past years, the TRIM – Truth In Millage Notice, goes out in August before the commission ever holds its first public budget hearing; scheduled for 5:01 p.m. on September 3, 2014. Many taxpayers have complained that they feel cheated of the opportunity to question those department heads who submit multi-million dollar operating requests to the Board; funding requests that come weeks before the public is heard.This process is all about county spending — and the millage rate produced is applied to the taxable values of real property in the county as established by Sharon Outland, St Johns County’s Property Appraiser. Your notice will provide the market, assessed and taxable values of your property according to her books. Taxable value is “assessed value” less any exemptions; such as homestead, widows, etc. If you think the value the Property Appraiser has set on your property is incorrect, or if you have questions about the exemptions on your notice, call or visit her office, or online at http://www.sjcpa.us.
The TRIM Notice contains information on proposed taxes set by the county’s taxing authorities which affect you. The notice also lists the dates these authorities will hold public hearings to adopt tentative budgets and millage rates. You should consider attending these hearings as the size of a taxing authority’s budget determines the millage rate (tax) necessary to fund it. Let your voice be heard.The Tax Collector, Dennis Hollingsworth, mails the TRIM Notice in August, but cautions recipients that the notice is not your tax bill. It is an estimate that establishes certain ranges or boundaries within which you will be taxed. More information is available on his website at http://www.sjctax.us/
You can challenge the appraised value placed on your property; however, petitions must be filed within a 25-day-period which commences from the day TRIM notices are mailed. The filing deadline date is noted on the TRIM notice and on the petition.
A petition exercising your right to be heard before the Value Adjustment Board is filed with the Clerk of Circuit Court who will set a date, time and place for your hearing. More information is available on Cheryl Strickland’s website at http://www.sjccoc.us/
The Value Adjustment Board’s sole purpose is to hear evidence concerning whether properties are appraised higher or lower than market value and to hear appeals of the denial of exemptions. Following your appeal, if you still remain unsatisfied with the value set on your property, you may file suit in civil court. Lawsuits must be filed within 60-days from the date the Property Appraiser certifies the rolls to the Tax Collector.