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Commissioners want to lower property taxes in next year's budget

Property tax
Posted at 6:15 PM, Aug 16, 2022

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — Lee County commissioners are planning to lower your property taxes in next year's budget. The flip side to that — it'll come out of the County's reserve fund, which is like a rainy day fund.

Currently, commissioners have $135 million set aside for when a natural disaster hits.

"We’ve seen everything and we’ve never had to actually even touch those reserves to cover any of it," said County Commissioner Brian Hamman.

In next year's proposed budget, they want to drop the reserves to $85 million.

"Some of that money that we didn’t spend we can use that this year to help lower the taxes and still cover the budget that needs to be covered," Hamman said.

Taking the money out of the reserves would also cover additional cash for areas like the Sheriff's Office, Department of Transportation equipment and Capital Projects. That's when there are projects with no dedicated money to pay for them.

"The idea of lowering the property tax rate, they call it the millage rate by a nickel," Hamman said.

County commissioners want to lower that rate to $3.81 for every $1,000 your home is assessed at. For example, if your home is worth $400,000 you'll pay a little over $1,500 towards the Lee County General Revenue tax. Keep in mind — this doesn't include other state and local taxes.

Commissioner Kevin Ruane, at a Tuesday afternoon workshop, suggested lowering the tax rate even more — by another nickel. This would take another $5.4 million out of the reserve fund.

"We believe that $85 million is more than enough money to clean up even the worst of disasters, even based on the worst that we’ve seen," Hamman explained.

He admits the property tax reduction may not be big bucks for homeowners as far as savings, but Hamman says a little could help.

"Right now when you look at your power bill, your gas bill, your grocery bill going up — if this is one bill that doesn’t go up, then I think that is a real benefit to people," he said.

On September 6, commissioners will host its first of two budget public hearings at the commissioner chambers at 5:05 p.m. Until then, commissioners will have the chance to talk about dropping the taxes another nickel.