Tax Hike for FL Property Owners

TALLAHASSEE - Lawmakers wouldn't dare utter the words "tax hike" in an election year, however; property owners will still be asked to pay more this year for education funding.

Florida's Governor is touting a record budget featuring tax and fee reductions of $500 million. The legislature passed a near $400 million tag fee tax break, but they're also asking for $400 million for education spending.

"The millage rate is the same, the millage rate did not increase, but the assessed values of property throughout Florida increased, said Senator Bill Montford.

Florida partners with school districts for what's called a required local effort for K-12 spending. The state is raising local contributions from about 7.8 billion to about 8.2 billion this year. The tax rate isn't going up, but property owners are on the hook for the additional 400 million bucks.

Property owners will be expected to pay about 5% more than they did last year.

School districts can't say no because they can lose out on funding. The state is increasing its contribution also, but only by 2%. Florida TaxWatch says the legislature had options to help out owners. "The legislature could have applied a rollback rate which would have retained the amount of property taxes that we're collecting. It would have increased slightly due to the increased property values but we certainly wouldn't have seen an increase in revenue," said Morgan McCord with the Florida TaxWatch.

The legislature had the option to put more state revenue in to the deal to offset the rising costs, but they didn't. Choosing to save it instead.

The Florida School Board Association called the tag fee break and the property value increase "a wash."