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HB orders up 2013-14 budget, tax increase

By Mark Young, Islander Reporter

The new fiscal year began Oct. 1 and Holmes Beach commissioners have a record-high $9 million spending plan following final budget approval Sept. 24.

Commissioners first voted to maintain the 1.75 millage rate, continuing the three-year tax rate. While the city is not raising millage, the rollback rate — the millage rate needed to produce the same revenue as the current year — is 1.6588. The 1.75 rate is a tax increase over the past year.

Revenue increased this year from property taxes due to higher property valuations. Treasurer Lori Hill said for a house valued at $350,000, the increase will bring an additional $5.51 a year in revenue to the city.

There was no public comment on the millage rate and Commissioner Marvin Grossman moved to approve the millage ordinance with Commissioner Judy Titsworth seconding the motion.

During discussion on the motion, Commissioner David Zaccagnino objected to leaving the millage rate the same, while revenues increase.

“It’s disheartening,” said Zaccagnino, who called the vote hypocritical because, he said, only he and Commissioner Judy Titsworth have homestead exemption on the tax rolls.

Commission Chair Jean Peelen said she was homesteaded, but Zaccagnino said she is not listed on the tax rolls as such. Peelen said that if she’s not homesteaded, then “I’m paying even more taxes than you.”

Zaccagnino said the millage rate should have been reduced to the rollback rate to make a statement to the residents of Holmes Beach that the city isn’t raising taxes.

Grossman said taking a stance from the dais isn’t the time to address the increased taxes.

“We all talked about the millage rate with Lori,” he said. “We all had the chance to talk about that and ask questions. That would have been the best time to request changes. If you let it go this long, she is going to assume that we are all in agreement.”

Zaccagnino made a similar argument in voting “no” during the Sept. 12 first reading or the ordinance.

Peelen called for a vote and the millage rate passed 4-1 with Zaccagnino opposed.

Commissioners moved on to the matter of passing the budget. After no public input, Commissioner Pat Morton moved to pass the budget with Titsworth seconding the motion.

Zaccagnino again expressed displeasure over the need to raise taxes, but joined commissioners in unanimously passing the budget.

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