Gainesville votes to hold tax, fire rates steady

Cynthia Curry, Desmon Duncan-Walker and Harvey Ward
The Gainesville City Commission passed resolutions Thursday to hold both the fire services special assessment and the tax rate steady for the next fiscal year.

The Gainesville City Commission passed resolutions Thursday during a special meeting that indicated they intended to hold both the fire services special assessment and the tax rate steady for the next fiscal year.

The goal of the special meeting was to pass resolutions establishing the rate city property owners will pay for taxes and fire services. While the resolutions set maximum rates, the city can lower either before they are finally approved in September.

Despite a proposal by Adrian Hayes-Santos to increase the fire services assessment by $5, the rate will remain at $133 per factored fire protection unit for the next fiscal year, which runs from Oct. 2022 through Sept. 2023. The commission voted 6-1, with Hayes-Santos in dissent, to keep the rate the same as the current year.

The millage rate, which is the tax rate charged to property owners, also will remain the same at 5.5 mills per assessed unit of value. The commission voted unanimously to keep it the same as the current year. 

The city had raised the millage rate between the 2021 and 2022 fiscal years, going from 5.2974 mills to 5.5 mills.

The millage rate is the amount a property owner has to pay per $1,000 of assessed value. Assessed value is typically lower than market value, and any tax exemptions are subtracted from the assessed value before the tax rate is applied.

If the taxable value of a home is $100,000, a Gainesville property owner would continue to pay $550 in city taxes in 2023.

Initial city budget planning estimates Gainesville would collect approximately $47.5 million by keeping the millage rate at 5.5.

Unlike the property taxes collected through the millage rate, the fire special assessment can only be used to support the operation of the city’s fire services. The factored fire protection units are determined by looking at the square footage of a property plus its hazard class (residences are at the lowest hazard level while sawmills and plastics factories are at the highest) and the previous year’s use of fire services for that particular hazard class.

By keeping the rate at $133 per factored fire protection unit, Gainesville is expected to generate $9,385,728 to support its fire department, according to city budget documents.

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Mary Lou Hildreth

That is still raising taxes. It is not the rollback rate.