Local News

AP to propose 'massive' property tax cut

AVON PARK - After a 39 percent cut last year, the proposed Avon Park city budget for 2014 shows a tentative 92 percent drop in property taxes to 30 cents per $1,000 of assessed property. The city council will vote to approve the preliminary millage rate of .3 mills at its regularly scheduled council meeting on Monday. City Manager Julian Deleon said, "This move will place Avon Park as having one of the lowest taxable millage in the state of Florida. Our vision has been to develop other more stable sources of income for the city with the continued growth and service-oriented fee structure." Councilman Terry Heston noted that the tax reduction would benefit homeowners and business owners.
"Anything we can do to help and inspire business to come back in Avon Park is a wonderful thing," he said. "I think our city manager is doing a good job and leading us in the right direction." Deleon noted that the agenda summary offers the highlights, which enabled the city to provide, "the massive property tax reduction." The proposed tax rate is possible due to restructured operations, reduced operating costs, growth through annexations and utility return-on-investment revenues, according to the agenda summary. On the agenda, Deleon offered an example of how the proposed property tax rate reduction would affect a house with a taxable value of $73,000 after exemptions. With the 2013 millage of $3.60, the taxes would be $262.80 on the house. Under the proposed 2014 millage of 30 cents, the taxes would be $21.90, which is a 92 percent reduction. The city's property tax rate decreased 39 percent from 5.8745 mills in 2012 to $3.60 per $1,000 of assessed valuation in 2013, moving the city from the highest to lowest municipal property tax rate in the county. The city's fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30. Also, at Monday's meeting, council will vote on the preliminary Fire Assessment resolution. City staff is recommending no changes to the annual fire assessment rates. The current residential rate is $165 per dwelling unit. Commercial rates range from $133 for buildings less than 1,999 square feet to $6,652 for buildings over 50,000 square feet. The rate schedule has separate categories for industrial/warehouse, institutional and nursing homes. mvalero@highlandstoday.com 863-386-5826