The Alachua County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) will vote Tuesday on final millage rates and its proposed $751 million budget.
The general millage rate, initially confirmed on Sept. 12, would decrease to 7.6414 but still represent a 7.51% tax increase when compared with the rollback rate. The rollback rate takes into account rising property values and is the rate the county would set to generate the same amount of money as the previous year.
The law enforcement millage rate will remain at 3.5678, which equates to an 8.19% tax increase.
Also on the budget is a proposal by county staff to begin posting public notices on the county website instead of in a local newspaper. County notices—which range from zoning changes to property tax rates—have been running in the Gainesville Sun newspaper, on the Sun’s website, and at floridapublicnotices.com.
According to backup documents, Alachua County spends between $60,000 and $100,000 on public notices and now plans to bring the functions in house with existing staff.
Mainstreet Daily News’ public notice rates are about half of the Gainesville Sun’s rates, according to publisher J.C. Derrick.
Legislation from 2022 created the county website option, which the statute says counties may use if it is less expensive than running notices in a newspaper. State Rep. Randy Fine, R-Palm Bay, who sponsored the bill, said the new changes will allow local governments to save millions each year.
Newspaper organizations like Gannett, owner of the Gainesville Sun and the Tallahassee Democrat, said the legislation will hide legal notices on government websites.
A Mason Dixon Polling and Research survey in 2020 found 78% of Floridians believe state and local governments should be required to publish public notices in a newspaper. The same study found 61% of Floridians said they were unlikely to seek out public notices on a government website.
The BOCC will also vote to purchase 40 acres around Watermelon Pond, listed as a strategic ecosystem. The land would be set aside for conservation and cost almost $385,000.