By Pinellas County Commissioner Charlie Justice
Every September, the Board of County Commissioners (BCC) adopts resolutions approving the County’s capital and operating budgets for the next fiscal year. I’m pleased to say that for Fiscal Year 2023, we were able to reduce the countywide property tax rate for the second year in a row. It’s only the second time in 35 years that the County has lowered the rate in consecutive years.
To put that into dollars, a homesteaded household with a taxable value of $300,000 will save just over $117 on the countywide millage. This will vary from household to household and holds true on average. Because businesses do not have homestead exemptions, they’ll realize the full value of the rate reduction. For many property owners who have seen a rise in their values, they’ll pay less property tax than expected. We know that in these inflationary times, every break helps.
I’m proud to say that we’re careful with taxpayer dollars in Pinellas County. Thanks to conservative fiscal practices throughout the years, strong budget planning, and a pay-as-you-go approach, we continue to carry the lowest per-capita debt among Florida’s large counties. At the same time, we continue to uphold the highest standard for public service. Our balanced FY 23 budget ($2.5 billion for Operating, $876.4 million for Capital Improvements) increases investments in roads, bridges, and other transportation infrastructure; strengthens access to behavioral health services and creates a cultural plan that coordinates investments into the arts – all while maintaining the County’s reserves appropriately.
Additionally, the Penny for Pinellas, our 1-cent infrastructure sales tax that funds so many of our capital projects, is fully balanced for the remainder of its 10-year term.
Our FY 23 budget includes dedicated support (0.1738 mills) for the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF), which is traditionally funded by gas taxes but faces a shortfall. The TTF is a critically important fund that pays for operation and maintenance of our roadway system, including right-of-way maintenance, transportation operations and engineering, traffic signals, traffic signs and pavement markings and bridge maintenance.
Developing the budget for the new fiscal year (Oct. 1 through Sept. 30) is a yearlong process that begins with a forecast in January and continues with targets and guidelines in February, departmental budget submissions in March and April, BCC budget work sessions from April through June, the County Administrator’s presentation of the proposed budget to the BCC in July, and then the public hearings in September. I’m proud of the job our County Administration, Office of Management and Budget, departmental leadership, and your Board did this year in meeting our targets. The new fiscal year is upon us, and we’ll soon be starting the process anew.
Details can be found on the Citizen Budget website at http://www.pinellascounty.org/budget. As always, if you have questions or comments, feel free to contact me at 727-464-3363 or firstname.lastname@example.org.