GNV set to raise taxes 29% over rollback rate 

Gainesville Mayor Harvey Ward said the budget cuts represent real people now without positions.
Gainesville Mayor Harvey Ward (right) said the budget cuts represent real people now without positions.
Photo by Seth Johnson

Gainesville residents will see a 29.2% increase in property tax advertised in their TRIM notices this year after a unanimous decision by the City Commission on Thursday.  

The Gainesville City Commission voted on a maximum proposed millage rate on Thursday, and city staff recommends the commission approve that maximum rate when the property tax returns for a first and second reading on Sept 7 and 21, respectively.  

If approved, the millage rate will go from 5.500 mills to 6.4297 mills, resulting in $16.2 million of extra property tax revenue for the city. The higher millage rate comes as assessed property values in the city have risen over the last year.  

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Gainesville earned $49.3 million during the current fiscal year from the property tax. Even if the City Commission kept the 5.500 millage rate, the city would receive more property tax because of the increase in property values, but a higher millage rate with high property values brings in even more city revenue.  

Bryan Eastman
Courtesy of City of Gainesville Bryan Eastman

For homeowners, the 6.4297 millage rate will mean paying an annual property tax of $642.97 for every $100,000 of assessed value of their home—different from a market rate price. That’s an increase of $92.97 per $100,000 of assessed value. Assessed home values can be found on the Alachua County Property Appraiser’s website.  

If the City Commission approves the maximum millage rate in September, Gainesville will receive $65.5 million for the 2023-2024 fiscal year. The entire budget stands at $154 million, around $200,000 less than last fiscal year. 

The city has a balanced budget as of Thursday’s meeting, but that budget hinges on the City Commission approving the maximum rate.  

If the city wanted to earn the same revenue, the commission could change the millage rate to the rollback rate of 4.9764 mills. Last year, the City Commission voted to keep the same millage rate of 5.500 mills but received a $4.5 million increase in revenue. 

The tax increase comes as the city struggles to fill around a $16.7 million deficit caused by cutting the general services contribution from Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU) to the general government budget.  

Commissioner Bryan Eastman pointed to the state Legislature as the cause of the tax increase. In February, the Joint Legislative Audit Committee (JLAC) ordered the City Commission to take drastic financial action to move GRU out from underneath $1.7 billion of debt.  

Eastman said JLAC told the city that positions and services would need to be cut and taxes increased to pull the city out of the problem.  

That JLAC meeting sent the city down its budget-cutting path for the last five months. A large part of the JLAC discussions centered on the general services contribution. Legislators said the city has been using GRU as a piggy bank to subsidize general government projects and services.  

Gainesville has lacked a formula to calculate how much the utility would transfer to the general government each year. City staff from both the general government and GRU created a formula in April to calculate that transfer, arriving at a 55% reduction from the previous fiscal year. That reduction placed the $16.7 million hole in the budget.  

Casey Willits
Courtesy of City of Gainesville Casey Willits

Eastman said half of that hole is being plugged through budget cuts and increased tax revenue will fill the other half. But, he said that city taxpayers are now subsidizing GRU and the state’s new board which will take control in October.  

“We are essentially subsidizing the Gainesville Regional Utilities Authority as well as the high bills that we are paying to the Gainesville Regional Utilities Authority, and we are subsidizing them to the tune of about $11 million,” Eastman said at the meeting. 

He said the 55% cut in the general services contribution is more drastic than needed to be made, pointing to a 2021 report that placed a transfer number at around $26.6 million instead of the scheduled $15 million for the next fiscal year.  

“I hope that when this new authority comes in, they will say that they want to pay their fair share of taxes to the city of GNV,” Eastman said. 

However, city staff created the formula for the new GRU transfer, and the City Commission approved the formula, not state officials or the not-yet-created authority. 

City government found savings by cutting around $11 million in expenses from 16 different departments, but the city police and fire departments saw a $10 million increase in expenses, canceling the reductions. Those cuts resulted in 27 employees losing positions along with 58 empty positions being cut.   

City Manager Cynthia Curry said on Thursday that some of those funds for fire and police aren’t true budget increases. The city changed how it calculates overtime pay, adding it to the front end of the budget instead of reconciling the figures at the end of the fiscal year.  

Commissioner Casey Willits said the city had cut budgets, if not quite to the bone, deep into the muscle.  

“I don’t want to be here at all, but I also know that the budget that we have been looking at, the services that we want to still maintain, this is what it will take,” Willits said. 

He also noted that the burden will fall heavier on multifamily residences that are mostly occupied by renters. A change in how the fire assessment is calculated will also shift more toward multifamily complexes.  

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Sick of Regressives

Regressive government will NEVER stop spending your money. Provided a golden opportunity to re-assess the function of local government- to provide basic services- and cut your taxes, these commissioners never seriously considered it. Now, you get to pay the same outrageous rates for utilities AND a lot more in property taxes. This is not the end. They will find other ways to tax you and hope that you don’t notice. These commissioners believe that government is the ultimate seat of power and their aim is to make more and more people dependent upon it.

So, now It is time for the citizens to re-assess local government. Take your ideological glasses off for a moment and truly ask yourself if this government is working for you. Because you are the true seat of power. The answer at which you will arrive is that it is not; it’s working for itself, to perpetuate itself and the power of those who run it. And it’s past time to get rid of it.

There is no law of nature which requires city government. County government and the State can provide basic government services at much lower rates and you would get to keep more of your hard-earned money. It’s time for the citizens to take back control. It’s time to abolish city government in Gainesville.


They don’t even mention roads. Did they changed the City Charter and leave that part out?


This is retaliation because they had their cash cow GRU taken from them. My electric bill here is FIVE times the amount it was in Miami. They saw their free cash disappearing and shafted homeowners by increases of up a third more. I’ve been involved in local politics in Miami for a while now (before i moved here in feb). Don’t EVER vote for funding for anything, in local elections. All that money disappears and it encourages them to ask for more

Warren Thomas

[Gainesville earned $49.3 million during the current fiscal year from the property tax] No, Gainesville RAISED $49.3 million. “Earning” insinuates that City Government produced a good or a service worthy of that sum, when in fact, it produces absolutely nothing. Moreover, GRU doesn’t owe City Government Jack Squat, let alone “their fair share”. City Government has been ass-raping the rate-payers for decades, using the electric company as cover. To be sure, it is City of Gainesville who owes GRU’s rate-payers every penny of that $1.7 Billion, not the other way around… and if there were any justice, the State of Florida would be rounding up the individuals who amassed that debt, forensically tracing where that money went and forcibly recovering it on behalf of the public.


The Failed Gainesville Mayor and Commissioners have just spit in the face of the Citizens of Gainesville and the State of Florida Governor and Auditors, as well as the JLAC. They most likely will loose any GRU Transfer due to the juvenile proposed budget. They should all be fired from any additional City Duties.

Jeff Gehmann

With a simple $230k home, I’ll add yet another $1,200 to annual property tax bill which is already outrageous. This is clearly retaliation to the state for taking the golden GRU goose away. More to come I’m sure. Will be just enough to drive me and many others to another less radical city.