CHIPLEY - The Washington County Board of County Commissioners tentatively approved a proposed property tax "rollback" rate of 9.252 when they met in regular session Thursday.
The proposed rate increase is in proportion to the dip in the county’s 2014 property tax digest and doesn't mean property taxes will rise. When property values decrease, so does the amount of tax collected. A millage rate to bring the same amount of property tax revenue as the year before is the “rollback” rate.
Commissioners approved the rate so it could be submitted to Property Appraiser Gil Carter to begin the process of issuing Truth in Millage (TRIM) notices to property owners.
"From here, we can lower the rate, but we can't raise it," explained Commission Chair Alan Bush.
With the 3.23 percent drop in assessed values, keeping last year's millage rate of 8.9195 would mean a budget shortfall of more than $250,000.
Commissioners also accepted the Courthouse Committee's recommendation of Tallahassee Based JRA Architects. President Jim Roberson represented the firm, which also has a Panama City office. Roberson, who founded the firm in 1975, stated he was excited to announced he'd be working on the design himself. Roberson has also worked on other area projects, including the construction of the new Chipley middle and high school campuses and the Bay County Administration Building, a120,000 square foot facility home to Bay County government offices.
"One of our first steps (after commissioners officially decided on a site) is to go to Tallahassee and check with the Secretary of State's office to see if we can tear the current courthouse down (if that's the chosen site)," said Roberson.
Courthouse Committee member and County Attorney Jeff Goodman stated a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) would be issued soon to seek a construction management firm as well.
Commissioners also heard from Dorche Circle resident Rita Jones who expressed concern that all addresses on the road were identical, with the exception of an added letter. Jones requested Commissioners reassign the addresses for the purpose of facilitating better emergency response to the homes.
"There's an aging population on that road," said Jones. "One resident had a stroke and had trouble getting help. She's now looking to sell and move because she's just not comfortable staying there."
Commissioners approved the renaming of the road to Mallard Pond Rd. and address adjustments pending approval from the 911 coordinator. Look for more on E-911 address concerns and the county's plan to improve the mapping system in the July 30 edition of the Washington County News.
In other action, the board approved the following measures:
- Approved the Clerk of Court to pay vouchers for June 2014 totaling $1,243,600.51
Approved a single lot subdivision exception and variance for minimum lot area requirement for
- resident Beth Taylor Cain for placement of a second single-family residence on an existing 1 acre parcel of property on Rattlebox Rd. The subject property is located in Low Density Residential Future Land Use designated area.
- Adopted the Small County Outreach Program (SCOP) and Small County Road Assistance Program (SCRAP) Resolutions which deals with financial assistance approved for roadway improvements from the Florida Department of Transportation through its SCOP and SCRAP programs. Roadways submitted were (SCOP): Lucas Lake Rd. at $1,608,689, Roche Rd. at $1,145,246, and (SCRAP): Wilderness Rd. (CR 170) at $2,288,482.00.
- Approved the FEMA/FDEM 4177-DR-FL agreement between the state and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) which requires the state to share costs eligible for federal financial assistance. The state has undertaken to share those costs with Washington County. This agreement ensures local activity will be consistent with federal requirements.
- Approved the Crime Stoppers Trust Fund Grant: Only one organization from each county is eligible for funds from the Florida Crime Stoppers Trust Fund, and must be designated by the Board of Commissioners. Commissioners selected Crimestoppers of Washington County to receive the funding.
- Reappointed Value Adjustment Board Commissioner Alan Bush and Commissioner Lynn Gothard as appointed board members and added Gary Hartman.
- Adopted an impact fee resolution which provides citizens relief from impact fees mandated for Residential Units and Non-Residential Units for a period beginning June 26, 2014 and ending June 25, 2015.
- Approved and invoice for Life Management Center of Northwest Florida Inc. for $12,217.45
- Approved to re-advertise to fill the position of county office custodian and raised the pay scale from $8.40 an hour to $10 an hour.