LEE COUNTY, Fla.-- Lee county is tentatively increasing the millage rate, or the rate used to set property taxes. It will go up in the general fund and library fund. The total increase would amount to about 71 dollars a year on a house valued for tax purposes at 100-thousand dollars.
"I apologize to the average taxpayer. This is not the right time to do this. It's the worst time," said Commissioner Frank Mann, who voted against the increases in millage.
Commissioners actually deadlocked 2 to 2 on the vote. But the county attorney's office ruled, a tie vote means approval for the higher millage.
"Because of lower property values, this does not mean a tax increase for the average homeowner," said commission chair Tammy Hall. "For many, the taxes will remain about the same. Some may pay less. A few may pay a bit more, for the vast majority will pay about the same as this year."
Commisisoners have to make up for a budget shortfall that could approach 80 million dollars.
They already have come to an agreement, that workers should be furloughed an average of 10 days in the coming budget year. That, coupled with proposed higher insurance premiums, amounts to a pay cut of about 4 percent.
Commissioners will hold another workshop on the budget in August. Mann says he will push for a deeper pay cut for county workers.
Commissioners also were warned today, that if they deadlock on a budget with a 2 to 2 vote in September, that will mean: no budget is approved. Nobody is quite sure what that could mean to the daily oeprations of the county, after October 1, when the new budget is supposed to take effect.
Commissioners have been waiting for Gov. Charlie Crist to appoint a replacement for the late Bob Janes, who passed away last March 10th. So far, there's been no appointment, leaving the board susceptible to 2 to 2 votes.