For the first time in 29 years, city officials in Tampa, Florida are considering raising property taxes. Mayor Bob Buckhorn is proposing a 16% property tax increase as part of the $974 million dollar budget for fiscal year 2018.
The fact that the property tax rate has remained steady for nearly 30 years has been one of Tampa's claim to fame. However, the city is now facing a number of increased expenses and decreased property tax revenues.
Tampa faces a $14 million budget shortfall this year thanks to rising costs and lingering long-term debt. For example, bills still remain from a 1996 bond to finance the Tampa Police Department headquarters.
If the city council approves, the proposed property tax millage rate will go up nearly a point from 5.73 to 6.63.
Included in the budget is $14.4 million for transportation projects, funding to hire 79 new city employees, and a 3% pay raise negotiated with unions for existing city workers.
Officials are anticipating a drop in property tax revenues if voters approve a ballot measure to increase the homestead exemption from $50,000 to $75,000. The change could cost the city about $6 million a year by reducing the value of property that can be taxed.
A second ballot proposal to make the 10% assessment cap on non-residential property permanent would lower tax revenues even more if it becomes law.
Tampa is already experiencing decreased property tax revenues. Projections show the city could lose more than $11 million for the 2017 fiscal year.
Tampa will host two required public hearings on the budget in September. The approved budget will go into effect October 1.