Every other year the Marco Island Taxpayers Association, Inc. (MITA) sponsors Abe Skinner, Collier County Property Appraiser and his staff to come to Marco Island to explain what is happening statewide as to what and how property values are figured.
Tonight from 6 to 7:30 at the Marco Community Bank Conference Room Abe Skinner, Kevin Lilly, and Don Douglas will explain what is occurring this year as different from past years.
Early reviews predicted a 24 percent decline in property values by Tallahassee. Skinner said they want those values early so they can do their budgets. What should be done is figure budgets first to see what is needed and then based on the budget, what is the millage rate needed.
This year there is a nearby example. The City of Naples cut millions from their budget first, and then they knew what their budget needs were. Their maximum millage rate went from 1.2 percent to 1.3 percent due to what is needed. Has the City of Marco Island made any cuts to speak of at this point? At this point it is pure guess work.
The City Council appointed ad hoc committees, one of which was the Ad Hoc Financial Planning Committee. MITA attended every meeting and heard the consultant hired, Bill Harrison, review what had been done the year before and gave them charts on details. We heard Chairman Bill Trotter assign each committee member to a department to review services, budget amounts, and how a 20 percent cut could be made. Public meetings were held to go over the services, but the meetings were very poorly attended. It seems as if all the services are needed at the rate they are provided.
Bill Trotter says they will be reviewed during the budget sessions. At this point the high maximum millage rate is not based on what the budget needs are. Has the city made any cuts to speak of? Has spending been cut? There is a long list or projects that need big money. The taxpayers of this city had better be at every budget meeting and speak up. Many times a member of MITA is the only person present.
Abe Skinner and staff will explain the effect “Save Our Homes” has had on the capping annual property taxable values of 3 percent. As long as values are skyrocketing as they have been doing for these past years, but in times when the economy is not good as now, it actually raises taxable values by 3 percent. The staff will explain the “recapture rate” which the state legislature passed to recapture some of the value we have enjoyed all these years.
Abe Skinner has just returned from a state meeting of all the property appraisers to discuss what is happening in the state and how they want to fight to have the “recapture rate” eliminated because they feel it is unfair. When the market decreases, the “recapture rate” is 3 percent or the CPI (Consumer Price Index) whichever is lower. This year the CPI is less than one-tenth of one percent. What has happened over past years will be explained. Probably we all will receive the TRIM notice (truth in millage) in mid August. What role foreclosures and short sales play in the figuring of property values this year will be explained.
Do not miss the education you will receive from Abe Skinner and staff at the meeting. It may be worth its weight in gold, as they say.