Loxahatchee Groves Town Council Adopts Unchanged Tax Rate

The Loxahatchee Groves Town Council approved a property tax rate of 1.4718 mills for its Truth in Millage (TRIM) rate, the same as this year, at its meeting Tuesday.

Based on the average homesteaded property value in town of $180,820, a homeowner would pay $192.54 after exemptions, which is up $2.73 from this year’s average due to rising property values. The rollback rate for the town would be 1.2822 mills.

The council also approved a solid waste assessment rate of $256.27 per customer, also unchanged from this year, although the contract was up $8,573 to $437,218. The collection rate is unchanged due to a $100,302 supplement from the general fund, which is less than the $115,000 supplement last year because about 100 new customers were added.

In recognition of the town’s 10th anniversary, Town Manager Bill Underwood recounted the history of the town’s taxable value, which went from a value of $362,613,089 in 2008, plummeted to a low of $178,882,163 in 2014, and has climbed back up to a value of $258,253,505 for fiscal year 2017.

“The massive reduction was 51 percent, and you’ve recovered back up, but it is phenomenal the level of reduction that you had,” Underwood said.

He also pointed out that during the recent recession, for a non-agricultural five-acre homestead, the council reduced the solid waste collection rate from a high of $323.73 in 2010 to the current rate of $256.27 due to supplements from the general fund.

“The council has been able to continue operations and continue to save money,” he said.

Underwood also noted that when property values dropped, the council also dropped the tax rate, where the opposite frequently occurs in municipalities when they are trying to collect the same amount of dollars in order to continue to operate.

Total ad valorem dollars paid to the town are coming back up. They went from a high of $516,724 in 2008 to a low of $203,926 in 2014. The proposed amount is $361,093 for 2017.

The total just value, the actual market value of the town, rose to $445,705,703 in 2015 from $362,087,003 in 2014, he said. Broken down into categories, the just value of homestead property was $196,119,527 in 2015 from a low of $162,496,582 in 2013; agricultural land value was $92,565,059 from a low of $58,953,972 in 2013; and non-homesteaded residential property was $83,067,702 in 2015 from a low of $44,693,949 in 2013.

Assessed taxable value was up for homesteaded property to $134,135,728 in 2015 from a low of $124,537,077 in 2013. Agricultural assessed value was $10,870,596 in 2015, up from $10,837,144 in 2014, but still down from $11,186,470 in 2013. Non-homesteaded property assessed value was $67,414,346, up from the low of $44,561,941 in 2013.

Back to this year’s budget, appropriations would be $1,365,923, or 41 percent, to the general fund; $1,118,893, or 34 percent, to the capital improvement fund; $442,198, or 13 percent, to the solid waste fund; and $416,571 to the transportation fund.

Revenue to the general fund includes the public service tax of $369,143, ad valorem tax of $361,093, intergovernmental funds of $349,687, permits and special assessments of $239,000, charges for services of $38,500, fines and forfeitures of $1,000 and miscellaneous funds of $7,500.

General fund appropriations are $323,594 to town management, $304,521 for law enforcement, $163,334 to planning and zoning, $120,100 to code enforcement, $146,849 to non-departmental uses, $89,980 to general government, $87,435 to the town council and $5,000 to public works.

The transportation fund includes a $77,764 supplement to the Loxahatchee Groves Water Control District, repairs to lettered roads of $8,668, trails of $28,140 and operational expense for roads of $302,000. Underwood said transportation will receive about $32,000 more from gas tax revenue.

The capital improvement plan includes about a $400,000 contribution to complete South B Road improvements that should be done in November, and will use $718,893 for projects in the budget. Continued road surveys are budgeted for $100,000, and $400,000 is budgeted for road and drainage construction, $40,000 for the North Road trail and $50,000 for other trails. An additional $28,983 supplement will go to the LGWCD toward road acquisition.