By Jessica Tuggle
SEBASTIAN -- City growth could mean slightly lower property tax bills for some residents.
The Sebastian City Council voted earlier this month to set the maximum ad valorem tax rate for the 2013-14 year at the same rate as the current year, which is approximately $3.72 per $1,000 of assessed taxable value.
Keeping the rate the same should allow most people to pay the same amount, or a little bit less, for their taxes in the new year because property values have gone down, city staff said.
Al Minner, Sebastian city manager, said the city is in an unusual position this coming year when it comes to revenue.
The incoming revenue from this year's properties and property taxes will decrease about $4 million for the new year. However, building and new construction will bring in more taxable properties, resulting in a $4 million net gain, Mr. Minner said.
Councilmembers have said they are pleased to be able to keep the old tax rate and still have enough funds to keep up the services and quality of life residents expect in Sebastian.
Councilman Jim Hill said the credit for that is on the shoulders of city staff leadership, not just the city council.
The council will vote on a final tax rate and approve a budget in September.
The tax rate approved by the council at that time may be lower, but it may not exceed the $3.72 per $1,000 amount, unless the council votes to resend all the residents notices of a change in the mail, which would be quite costly to the city.
With the property tax rate at $3.72 per $1,000 in assessed taxable value, a property owner in Sebastian with a house valued at $150,000 after exemptions could expect to pay $558 to the city in property taxes.
Ed Herlihy, a member of the budget review committee, said the committee recommends keeping the rate the same going into the 2013-14 year and also recommends that the city not use any of the general fund reserves, but to keep it for a "rainy day."
About $4.7 million is kept in the general fund reserve.
For more information about the proposed city budget, visit www.cityofsebastian.org.