Hey buddy, can you spare $436,068,135?

Property taxes are collected in arrears, so, although Historic City News readers have been following budget proposals from taxing authorities, levying authorities, community development districts, county department heads and constitutional officers, like the clerk of court and the sheriff, over the last six weeks, those budget requests are for spending in the 2018 Fiscal year.

On Tuesday, October 31, 2017, St. Johns County Tax Collector Dennis W. Hollingsworth, CFC, will be sending bills, both by mail and e-mail, to taxpayers for money spent by their local government in the 2016-2017 Fiscal year, that ended September 30, 2017.

“The St. Johns County 2017 property tax rolls are now open for collection, your payment can be made effective immediately,” Hollingsworth told local reporters. “The total taxes to be collected are $436,068,135 — an increase of $24,303,992 compared to the 2016 tax roll.”

The tax collector’s name may be at the top of your tax bill; however, he’s just the messenger and shouldn’t be shot. At least, not alone. It is St. Johns County Property Appraiser, Eddie Creamer, who establishes all property assessments; including adjustments for homestead and other exemptions. Creamer is responsible for delivering the final annual tax roll to Hollingsworth for collection. Individual taxing authority’s millage rates, CDD rates, assessments and exemptions that are itemized on your tax bill, are calculated by each of those individual authorities.

About $5 million of the $24 million increase in tax assessments can be attributed to non-ad-valorem taxes, like community development districts. About $11 million is attributed to increase in general operations administered by the Board of County Commissioners with the remainder going to the budgets of constitutional officers.

“For the past 27 years, your Tax Collector’s office has maintained a 99.3 percent or greater collection rate, with this year’s collection rate standing at 99.82 percent,” Hollingsworth said. “Ultimately, this assists all local taxing authorities to finance services for the citizens’ needs.”

Although all tax notices become due November 1, 2017, they are payable through March 31, 2018, without incurring a penalty. The greatest savings will come to those who opt to pay their taxes in November when they can get a 4% percent discount allowed by law, FS 197.162. The amount of the discount decreases by 1% percent every month until March 2018 when taxes must be paid and no discount is applied.

In addition to the 71,083 tax notices sent to property owners, 44,193 tax notices were sent to mortgage companies with escrow accounts. Property owners with escrow accounts should receive an “information only” notice detailing your tax status and stating, “THIS IS NOT A BILL-DO NOT PAY- YOUR BILL HAS BEEN FORWARDED TO YOUR ESCROW AGENT.”

Anyone unable to pay their homestead property taxes should contact the St. Johns County Tax Collector as early as possible to determine eligibility for the Homestead Tax Deferral.

If you have questions, comments or suggestions regarding payment of taxes or the operation of the St. Johns County Tax Collector’s office, please contact Hollingsworth at taxcollector@sjctax.us.

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