Pinellas County Commission approves tentative millage rates and budgets – Tampa Bay Newspapers

CLEARWATER — Pinellas County Commissioners unanimously approved tentative millage rates and budgets for fiscal year 2021 during a first public hearing on Sept. 10.

Commissioners are expected to approve final millage rates and budgets following a virtual public hearing on Tuesday, Sept. 22, at 6 p.m. Visit Pinellas.county.org for more information.

During the first public hearing, commissioners approved more than $2.7 billion in total spending, which is $61.8 million decrease from the current year. The total excludes money allocated to reserves and funds received through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act.

Reserves were increased by $179 million as part of a multi-year strategy to keep a balanced budget in future years.

The budget for the Board of County Commissioners is $106.1 million with a $1.5 million increase to the General Fund budget.

Tentative millage rates are the same as the current year except for six fire districts that have reduced rates. Residents should note that due to increases in property values, tax bills may be higher than the current year.

The millage rate is applied to a property’s taxable value to determine property tax due. One mill is $1 per $1,000 dollars of assessed value. A 5 mill tax on $1,000 equals $5.

The General Fund millage remains at 5.2755 mills, the same as it has been since FY 2014. The EMS millage also remains unchanged from FY 2014 at 0.9158 mills. The Health Department millage is 0.0835 mills. It was last increased in FY 2018 to add funding to pay for school nurses.

The Municipal Service Taxing Unit (MSTU) millage remains at 2.0857 mills, the same as it has been since FY 2009. The money is used to pay for services in unincorporated areas of the county.

Millage rates remain unchanged at six fire districts: Belleair Bluffs, High Point, Pinellas Park, Seminole, Tarpon Springs and Tierra Verde. The rate will decrease at six districts: Clearwater, Dunedin, Gandy, Largo, Safety Harbor and South Pasadena.

Some of the changes from prior discussions include additional funds for the supervisor of elections and clerk of the circuit court. More money was allocated for a behavioral health initiative and additional funds for emergency medical services enhancements for Largo Squad 38 and Redington Beach Medic Unit.

State Housing Initiatives Partnership program funds were reduced due to cuts in the state budget. The state allocates money to local governments as an incentive to create partnerships that produce and preserve affordable homeownership and multifamily housing.

The state also reduced the county’s share of costs for state mandated juvenile detention.

Money was added to allow Sawgrass Lake Mobile Home Park to be added to the Lealman Solid Waste Collection & Disposal District. Staff also updated user fees for Solid Waste and Building & Development Review Services.

Fiscal year 2021 begins Oct. 1.

Suzette Porter is TBN’s Pinellas County editor. She can be reached at sporter@tbnweekly.com.

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