Inverness taxable value lower than hoped; officials say no tax rate hike | Local News
It wasn’t the number Inverness officials were hoping to see.
The preliminary value of Inverness was $551,370,000 for 2022, according the Citrus County Property Appraiser’s Office. City officials were hoping it would be higher.
Property Appraiser Cregg Dalton and his staff in June released what they evaluated was the city’s worth. They do that by evaluating all of the city’s properties, including residential and commercial properties.
The number is important because that’s one of the numbers city officials use to establish Inverness’ annual budget. It’s also the number elected officials use to help them decide whether to raise property taxes to meet the demand for services.
Dalton sent Inverness City Manager Eric Williams a letter May 31 as to the city’s value, including new construction.
The estimation, although preliminary, is 5.1 percent greater than a year ago when the city’s value was determined to be $524,663,936.
Dalton determined that of the city’s increase in value of $26.7 million, $1.4 million was from new construction.
Inverness council members said that regardless of the evaluation, they won’t support a property tax hike and the city will live within its means.
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s off the table,” Councilwoman Linda Bega told the Chronicle.
Bega said that she was concerned that the national economy could be in store for a continued downturn.
“I think we’re heading toward some dire times,” she said.
Bega said she had faith in the city’s staff to find additional sources of income and knowing where to cut costs.
The city’s current 2021-22 millage rate is 7.8211.
This is how millage rates work.
One mill in property, or ad valorem taxes, is equal to $1 for each $1,000 of the property’s taxable value. So if a property is worth $75,000, after homestead exemptions, the property owner’s city property taxes would be $586.58. That does not include county or school taxes.
Bega thinks Dalton underestimated the value of recent construction projects such as Colonnade Park apartment complex and a recently built convenience store.
Council president Cabot McBride agreed that raising taxes was not the answer given the current economic times with rising gas and food prices.
“What we don’t want to do is increase the millage rate,” he said.
If the economy continues to falter, city government “is looking at some belt tightening,” he told the Chronicle. “It’s tough times for us all.”
“It’s not a good idea to be increasing rates when people need their dollars to spend on basics,” he said.
Dan Robbins, the property appraiser’s office deputy of appraisals, told the Chronicle that he thought his estimate of the city’s value was fair. But he also warned the final estimate would come out July, and could change.
Robbins said that a 5 percent growth was a healthy increase and reflected an increase in value of residential, commercial, and vacant land.
People are moving to the area, he said, and want to buy and build homes.
City manager Eric Williams said he won’t come to the council with a tax hike request.
“I don’t think it’s sustainable right now,” he told the Chronicle.
After several years of raising the millage rate, Inverness only two years ago began reducing it.
Regardless of the city’s final value as determined by the property appraiser, Williams said “we’ll live with that growth.”
The other county taxable values, according to the property appraiser are:
Citrus County at $12,030,000,000
Crystal River at $581,700,000