The Florida Association of Counties shared with Historic City News the “2009 County Property Tax Report” that was presented to the Florida House Military and Local Affairs Committee today.
The report summarizes the reductions that counties have made across the state — more than $700 million this year alone — and where counties fall in relationship to the mandated rollback rate. 58 counties report that they are at, or below, the rollback rate.
All but nine of Florida’s counties stayed at or below the 2007 rollback rate, including Lee County which is approximately 24% below the mandated rollback rate. In addition, 44 counties will collect less in property tax revenue, 14 of whose budgets are reduced by more than 10%.
Out of Florida’s 67 counties, St. Johns ranked “36th place” in terms of percentage below the rollback rate; turning in a score of 3.15% below.
In our area, St. Johns County did not do as well as Flagler County with 3.83% below, or Putnam County with 5.53% below, but ranked better than Clay County with 1.31% below the rollback rate. Duval County ranked “55th place” with no reduction from the rollback rate and Nassau County was .03% over, according to the Florida Association of Counties report.
Property taxes are the major funding source for local services and education in Florida. Counties primarily provided public safety, fire, emergency medical services, public record-keeping, jails, parks, libraries, health care, economic development, comprehensive planning, and roads, just to name a few.
“Counties across the state are making hard choices to respond to calls from our citizens,” said FAC President and Alachua County Commissioner Rodney Long, “Each county is struggling to provide the services citizens demand while ensuring a responsible budget.”
Three major factors have impacted property taxes in Florida over the last three years: the decline in property values, the implementation of the roll back rates (2007) and Amendment 1 (2008).
This year alone counties have reduced revenue by more than $729 million. In three years, that reduction totals $1.5 Billion or 13%. These reductions have resulted in major workforce cuts as well as cuts to all levels of service.
“These reductions are necessary during these trying times,” added Long, “but any additional property tax changes at this time could cripple critical services beyond repair.”