Although the budget proposal released Monday calls for a nickel cut in the tax rate, the levy is still a tax increase because it will be imposed on city property that has grown in value by more than 25 percent. The proposed rate is 51.6 percent higher than the "rolled-back" rate of $3.36, which is the rate that would raise the same amount of revenue as produced this year.

Interim City Manager Paul Nicoletti unveiled an almost $40.3 million spending plan that would reduce the property tax rate from just a hair more than $5.15 for every $1,000 of taxable property value to an even $5.10.

Last year, the owner of a $250,000 home with the standard $25,000 homestead exemption received a city tax bill of about $1,159.63. That does not include taxes levied by the county, school district and other taxing agencies.

This year, if that same house sees its value increase by 3 percent - the maximum for homesteaded properties - the owner should expect a bill of $1,185.75.

Because of rising property values, the rate to repay bonds sold for the city's new Public Safety Complex will shrink slightly in its second year to about 24 cents for every $1,000 in taxable value, down from 30 cents.

In a memo to the City Commission, Nicoletti said proposed expenses for the next budget year were generally higher than this year's. He attributed increase to inflation, insurance hikes, rising fuel costs and the higher costs of construction materials.

Some of the costs also include 12 new city employees. Nicoletti said the city's growth in development and need for comprehensive planning are some of the factors that call for the extra staff.

Four positions are requested for the Development Department, four for Fire Rescue, one for Financial Services and another for the City Attorney's office.

Two other positions are requested for the Building Maintenance Department, which would add two full-time custodians to replace contracted janitorial services.

The spending plan also calls for $137,500 worth of work to make city facilities comply with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

It fulfills 97 percent of the two-month emergency reserve required by the city's spending policy for a total stash of about $3.3 million. Staff would now like to see that requirement increase to three months.

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