Tampa City Council axes Jane Castor’s property tax hike

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The property tax hike would have made Tampa's millage rate higher than St. Pete and Orlando.

The Tampa City Council narrowly voted down a double-digit property tax rate increase during a contentious meeting that included four hours of public testimony, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

The 4-3 vote rejects Tampa Mayor Jane Castor’s proposed 16% property tax hike, a millage rate increase of 1 mil. It would have cost the average property owner about $232 on their annual property tax bill.

The increase would have generated about $54 million in additional revenue for the city, for which Castor’s proposed budget outlines prescribed spending on infrastructure, parks and public safety.

The city’s millage rate has only been raised once since 1989.

In a proposed budget packet presented to the Council, entitled “Tampa Thrives,” Castor noted the increase was needed to connect neighborhoods, “residents to opportunities” and “diverse population(s) to one another.”

“This increase will not only be about investing in the physical infrastructure like roads, pipes and housing that keep us resilient as a city, but also investing in the infrastructure of people,” Castor’s letter to the City Council reads. “It will be about working together to tackle our greatest challenges and coming together to celebrate our greatest successes.”

Castor’s proposal called for allocating 39% of the recommended millage rate increase to infrastructure, including improving the city’s transportation system.

“It is well documented that our transportation system has suffered from decades of lack of investment,” Castor wrote. “We have millions of dollars of needs for deferred maintenance of roads, traffic signals and bridges.”

Castor also pointed to the All For Transportation referendum, which earned approval on its first go and narrowly failed on its second after a court case raised questions about whether the ballot question would be valid.

“Twice in four years, Tampa voters sent a clear message that they want us to invest in transportation infrastructure and that they’re willing to pay for it,” Castor wrote.

She specifically noted constituent needs for sidewalks, safety and travel options.

“They want shorter commutes, less congestion and smoother traffic flow. And above all, they want us to increase fixing our roads,” the letter continued.

Castor’s proposed budget also included 16% of the recommended property tax increase for resident services and 20% for housing initiatives to “address the long-term, systemic issues that make housing less affordable every day.”

With Castor’s millage rate increase scuttled, Tampa will still enjoy new revenue from property taxes anyway, including higher property values that have added 12% to taxable values, according to the Times.

Castor’s recommended increase would have raised Tampa’s property tax rate above neighboring St. Petersburg and nearby Orlando, lifting it from $6.21 for every $1,000 of assessed value to $7.21.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of FloridaPolitics.com, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Previous to his publishing efforts, Peter was a political consultant to dozens of congressional and state campaigns, as well as several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella. Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterSchorschFL.


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