Palm Beach County Commissioners gave initial approval to a $4.5 billion budget plan which will be brought before public hearings scheduled for Sept. 5 and Sept. 18. Commissioners must give final approval to the tax rate and budget before the start of the fiscal year on Oct. 1.
Exactly what does the potential new budget mean for Palm Beach County homeowners?
Higher tax bills for homeowners
Even though the spending plan would hold the property tax rate for the operating budget steady at $4.78 per $1,000 of taxable value for the seventh year in a row, rising property values will mean that homeowners will pay more.
Due to the increased property values(assessments), the rate will likely generate about $55 million more than the previous year.
Owners of second homes(since they will not have a homestead exemption), rentals and commercial properties would see their bills rise the most. A $350,000 vacation home that grew in value by the average of 5.71 percent, the increase in county property taxes would be about $96, not including taxes paid for school, city and other services.
Commissioners claim the extra revenue is needed to offset a possible extra tax break for homeowners that is still not approved. The tax break in question could be approved by voters next year.
Voters will have the opportunity to approve an additional $25,000 homestead exemption in the November 2018 election. The new exemption would mean an average tax break of $275 for homeowners, but would potentially leave the county with a $50 million budget deficit by the 2020 budget year.
Commissioner Paulette Burdick added, “We here in Palm Beach County have become used to a standard that we want to live by,” she continued, “Sometimes you have to pay for things you want to have.”
3. Increased Sheriff’s Department deputies and staff
Sheriff Ric Bradshaw plans to hire 15 new deputies in 2018 with a total of 100 new patrol deputies over the next three years. Bradshaw cites population growth for the staffing needs.
4. Money to help combat the opioid crisis
Commissioners faced a challenge that has plagued Palm Beach County – the opioid epidemic. With treatment centers marketing the picturesque locale, almost 600 overdose deaths were recorded in the county in 2016 alone. Earlier this year, the commission retrieved $1 million from reserves for the costs related to the opioid death toll.
Additionally, $2 million of the newly proposed budget would be direct toward the opioid crisis.