VERNON -- Following Tuesday's budget hearing, Vernon City Council approved a resolution that adopts the tentative levying of ad valorem taxes at a rate more than doubled of the current rate.
Resolution 17-147 became effective Tuesday, in a unanimous vote. The new millage is tentatively set at 4.82, which is an increase of more than 100-percent of the roll-back rate of 2.38 mills.
"It's not my intention for it to be permanent," said Vernon City Council chairman Gary Owens.
During the public hearing, Owens responded to a local citizen who questioned how the increased tax revenue would be used. The councilman suggested the new revenue would be used to, essentially, operate the city and balance the budget.
At the new rate, about $79,600 will be generated in ad valorem, nearly $40,000 more than the previous fiscal year, a certification of taxable value document from Florida Department of Revenue states.
"We're running way behind where we need to be financially," Owens said. "All of this here," he added, referring to city facilities, "we don't have the funds to keep it up."
City officials also stated the city inherited debt from previous administrations, needed to increase insurance policies to meet coverage requirements and had a problem with people not paying water bills and "skipping town."
Owens also mentioned waste bin collections -- that is, collection of septic waste or sludge from residences -- could help offset some of the ad valorem tax pressure in the future, hopefully, leading to a decreased rate.
The city made $4,500 in waste bin collections last month, according to Owens.
More than anything else, officials suggested the property tax hike resulted from the massive loss of businesses and residences along State Road 79 following the construction to widen the road, which Florida Department of Transportation slates to be complete 2019.
The city lost "a huge mechanic shop, grocery store, movie store, service station," Owen listed, as well as a Tom Thumb service station and number of residences.
"Almost 50 percent of our revenue from business has been taken away," he added.
However, according to officials, a little more than 30-percent of Vernon citizens will be impacted by the ad valorem tax increase. That percentage, 30 percent, is the amount of individuals who have property.
Also at the budget hearing, the council adopted a tentative budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year in the amount of $3,278,202.68. Citizens may request copies of the budget at City Hall.
Vernon City Council will hold its regular meeting Monday, Sept. 18 at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 28008 Yellow Jacket Drive.