The Coastal Star

Boca Raton: City holds line on tax rate, boasts about survey results

By Sallie James

    The municipal property tax rate in Boca Raton won’t be going up this year.
    And the way Boca officials see it, low taxes are just one more reason to brag about how great their city is. A recent survey by named Boca Raton the No. 1 city in Florida to live and work, based on the odds of being a victim of violent crime, commute time, income, college and restaurants per capita.
    Add to that the lowest municipal tax rate (for a full-service city) in Palm Beach County and you’ve got… well, paradise?
    “The city of Boca Raton has a really great new title: the No. 1 top-rated city to live in, in the state of Florida,” Deputy Mayor Constance Scott bragged during the July 22 City Council meeting.
    “I think it’s continued testament to the leadership of the city manager in maintaining world-class services while maintaining the lowest tax rate in the county for any full-service city,” City Council member Scott Singer said.
    And with that sort of branding, coupled with the good news on taxes, what’s not to like?
    The city is proposing a tax rate of $3.71 per $1,000 of assessed value for 2014, slightly lower than last year’s rate of $3.72 per $1,000 of assessed value due to a slight decrease in debt service.
    Under this proposal, a taxpayer with a $250,000 home and a $50,000 homestead exemption would pay $742.52 in municipal property taxes.  The city’s non-ad valorem fire services assessment will also remain at the current sum of $85 per residential property.
    Singer said it’s all due to good fiscal management.
    “I’m very reluctant to raise taxes as a general matter,” he added.
    In addition to municipal property taxes, tax bills also include sums paid to the Palm Beach County School Board, the South Florida Water Management District, park districts and other entities.
    The city will give final approval to the proposed tax rate in September when the city budget is adopted.  The city has tentatively scheduled a budget hearing for 6 p.m. on Sept. 11.
    Assistant Boca Raton City Manager Mike Woika said the city made a number of changes early in the past recession, such as cutting positions and trimming other costs, which enabled the city to hold the line on property taxes.
    “This put the city in a solid fiscal position during the recession despite the financial environment,” Woika said. The city’s finances continue to be strong, he added, noting that Boca Raton has received AAA financial ratings from all three of the rating agencies for its sound fiscal practices.;

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