By Steve Plunkett

Briny Breezes Inc. will pay 70% of the cost of police and fire rescue services in the next budget year, just like it has this year.

Susan Brannen, president of the corporation’s board, told town aldermen at their April 25 meeting that her board unanimously approved repeating the financial arrangement “in exchange for a lower millage rate.”

“Just wanted to let you know,” Brannen said.

“This is what we asked for, so we should be happy,” Alderwoman Kathy Gross said.

“I’m happy,” Town Manager Bill Thrasher responded.

Thrasher had said at the March meeting that he planned to keep the tax rate the same as this year’s $3.75 per $1,000 of taxable value. If that rate is eventually adopted, the owner of a mobile home valued at $150,000 would pay $562.50 in property taxes.

It’s early in the budget cycle though, with the aldermen planning to have their first budget workshop in June and approving a final property tax rate in September.

The money juggling does not translate into savings for residents. Briny Breezes Inc., the co-op that leases land to the mobile homeowners, will again offset the 70% pledge by charging residents higher annual assessments.

Last fall was the first time since 2009 that the town did not levy $10 per $1,000 of taxable value, the maximum allowed by state law. The maneuver will give Briny Breezes room to raise taxes, perhaps back to the $10 rate, to repay millions of dollars in loans it expects to take out to finance sea walls, drainage improvements and new streets to fight sea-level rise.

In prior years, the town used the maximum tax rate to enable residents to take a higher deduction on their federal tax returns.

At the meeting, aldermen also accepted the 2023 annual audit of the town’s finances by accounting firm Caballero Fierman Llerena + Garcia LLP.

“Overall a clean report. Nothing of significance to report today,” said Andrew Fierman, one of the firm’s partners.

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