JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (WOKV) -- The city will decide Tuesday exactly what property tax rate will be set for next year. However the changes are likely not done.
A public records request submitted by WOKV shows there have been 36 floor amendments submitted to the Office of the General Counsel as of call of business Monday. These will be up for debate Tuesday night during City Council's vote on the final budget.
"The temptation to spend that money is always there because everything we do is certainly judged to be, at least by some segment of society, necessary and worthwhile or needed," says City Council President Bill Gulliford.
Last year, the council considered fewer than 10 amendments on the final night of debate because there was no tax hike being considered, so there was no money to allocate. This year is different.
Jacksonville's Finance Committee has crafted a budget that raises your property tax rate roughly 12%, which generates about $51 million to use toward the General Fund. The full council voted a few months ago to allow the rate to rise as much as 15%, generating $65 million. That leaves roughly $14 million that could still be used to fund more departments or programs.
"This is going to be unique to the process, because we haven't been in this position for many years," Gulliford said.
If all amendments were approved, it would require an additional $10,662,528. That would bring your property tax rate near the maximum hike allowed. There are two amendments that would also put money back in what's called the special council contingency or account of money that will be balanced by raising the tax rate. Those two amendments combined total $786,960. Not all of the 36 amendments deals with money that impacts your tax rate, the above sum reflects 28 amendments which impact the council contingency.
We asked Gulliford how comfortable he was that taxpayers would see their rate climb as little as possible.
"How comfortable am I? I'm not that comfortable, because anytime people see things that need to be done and that there's still money available, there's going to be great pressure to do that," he said.
But regardless of the final rate that is set, Gulliford said he is proud of his fellow council members who supported a tax rate hike -- largely considered a tough political stance -- because he said they saw instead the investment the community truly needed.