FERNANDINA BEACH WEATHER

Weekly comments from Dale Martin – Truth in Millage Notice

By Dale Martin
City Manager
Fernandina Beach
June 25, 2021

City Manager Dale Martin

As the annual budget process moves on, I’ll continue my review of the Truth in Millage (TRIM) Notice. For reference, I will be utilizing the 2020 TRIM Notice associated with my property (2404 Los Robles). You can visit the Nassau County Property Appraiser’s website (www.nassauflpa.com), specifically the GIS Map pages, to either follow the discussion using my property and TRIM Notice or review your own property and TRIM Notice.

My previous discussion reviewed the respective values associated with property and the differences and relationships of those values: the Market Value, the Assessed Value, and Taxable Value. Again, these values are illustrated at the bottom of a TRIM Notice (in all instances, both the previous year’s values and the current year’s values). Also located in this section of the TRIM Notice are the qualifying exemptions, most commonly the two Homestead exemptions if the property serves as the principal residence for the property owner.

The “meat” of the TRIM Notice is the center section of five primary columns: Taxing Authority, Column 1, Column 2, Column 3, and Public Hearing Information. The Taxing Authority column lists all governments and agencies that levy taxes in Nassau County. Depending upon where in Nassau County you live, the governments and agencies may vary. On my TRIM Notice, it shows that I am taxed by Nassau County; School Board- State; School Board- Local; Fernandina Beach; Amelia Isl Beach MSTU (Municipal Services Taxing Unit; often referred to as the “sand tax”); St Johns River Wtr Mgmt District; FL Inland Navigation District; Amelia Island Mosq Control; and Fdna Bch Voter Appr Debt.

Again recognizing that I am referring to the 2020 TRIM Notice which is the most recently available, Columns 1, 2, and 3 each have two subordinate columns. Column 1 shows Tax Rate 2019 and Your Property Taxes 2019 for each of the taxing authorities. The Tax Rate is the millage levied (reminder: one “mill” equals $1 for every $1,000 of Taxable Value) by each agency. On my Notice, the Tax Rate levied by Fernandina Beach is shown as 6.3553. The property taxes paid to Fernandina Beach are a product of the 2019 Tax Rate and my 2019 Taxable Value: $252,137 * 0.0063553, or $1,602.41.

The $1,602, combined with the Fdna Bch Voter Appr Debt payment of $42.43 (this payment is associated with the City’s acquisition of the Egans Creek Greenway and, since the original debt was paid off in April, will not appear on the 2021 TRIM Notice), represents the City portion of my property tax obligations. With the total 2019 taxes for my property showing as $5,348.45, my City taxes represent approximately thirty percent of my entire tax obligation. The bulk of the remaining taxes are levied by Nassau County and the School Board, with each of those approximately one-third of the total obligation similar to the City’s one-third. The remaining Taxing Authorities account for less than $150 of my $5,348 taxes.

Column 2 reflects the proposed Tax Rate if No Budget Change is Adopted. This is commonly referred to as the “rollback rate.” The rollback rate is an effort by the State of Florida to compare year-to-year local government budget (property tax) revenues. The Nassau County Property Appraiser provides the Taxable Values that are utilized to determine the rollback rate (Form DR-420). For 2020, the appropriate Taxable Values for real (estate) property was $2,317,259,620; personal property (typically equipment and inventory), $429,264,899; and centrally assessed property (a special classification, often utilized for railroad-owned property), $2,255,774, for a gross City Taxable Value of $2,748,780,293.

The Property Appraiser then deducts new construction, additions, and various other improvements, which in 2020 totaled $74,571,917, resulting in a final gross Taxable Value of $2,674,208,376. This value is then compared to the previous year’s gross Taxable Value and then, with other various Property Appraiser adjustments, results in an adjusted Taxable Value (2020: $2,668,063,921). This adjusted Taxable Value is then used to determine what tax rate (millage) is necessary to generate roughly the same amount of property tax revenues as was generated the previous year at the previous year’s adopted millage rate. The resulting millage rate is the “rollback rate.” Again, all of these figures are reviewed and determined by the Nassau County Property Appraiser and his staff and subsequently provided to City staff as part of budget preparation.

Column 3 illustrates what the tax levied by each agency would be if the agency adopts a maximum millage rate set by the respective governing board as part of the preliminary budget process (the proposed maximum millage rate is due to the Property Appraiser in early August). Although it is theoretically possible by a governing board to subsequently adopt a millage rate higher than the initially established maximum millage rate, significant additional legal and public notice requirements are necessary for such action. It is after all agencies submit the maximum proposed millage rate that the Property Appraiser can prepare and distribute TRIM Notices, illustrating the likely minimum to maximum range of taxes associated with each agency.

The final column of the TRIM Notice provides the details of each Taxing Authority’s public hearing on its proposed millage rate and associated budget. While I am not aware of the scheduled public hearing dates for other Taxing Authorities, the City’s published budget calendar notes the first public hearing for the proposed 2021-2022 budget is scheduled for September 7 (with a second public hearing scheduled for September 21).

I will continue this budget discussion next week. The 2021-2022 budget will be presented to the community on July 20 during the City Commission Regular Meeting.

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