Marco Island City Council tentatively adopts property tax rate reduction

Finance Director Guillermo Polanco speaks to Marco Island City Council on July 20, 2020.

Marco Island City Council voted Monday to set a maximum property tax rate for the coming budget year that would lower the city's tax rate for the fourth consecutive year. 

The proposed maximum rate of 1.76 mills — or $176 per $100,000 of appraised property value —represents a 2.5% decrease in the tax rate compared to the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.

Higher property values, though, mean the lower tax rate will raise the same amount of property tax revenue the city brought in this fiscal year.

Guillermo Polanco, finance director, said Tuesday that it has been City Council's policy over the last several years to work toward setting the tax rate at what is known as the rollback rate.

"For the most part, the rolled-back rate limits any tax increases to our taxpayers," Polanco said.

City Councilman Jared Grifoni said it is "incredible" that the proposed rate is lower than it was 10 years ago. In 2011, the property tax rate on Marco Island was 1.89 mills, according to Polanco.

Grifoni said there is another benefit in adopting the rollback rate four years in a row.

"In the event that future increases were ever proposed by other councils, the amount you can go up on a year to year basis is capped based on how many votes you have in support," he said.

A property tax rate of not more than 110% of the rolled-back rate may be adopted if approved by a two-thirds vote, according to state law. A rate in excess of 110% may be adopted if approved by a unanimous vote.

Marco Island City Councilor Jared Grifoni speaks during a council meeting on July 20, 2020.

City Councilman Larry Honig said he was surprised to learn that Marco Island was one of a handful of cities in Southwest Florida whose budget was not impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the general fund budget proposed for fiscal 2021, the city's operating expenses will total $22.6 million, a 3.9% increase when compared to the revised budget of the current fiscal year.

If compared to the 2020 year-end forecast, the proposed expenses represent an 8.9% increase.

City Councilman Greg Folley said he was satisfied with the proposed property tax rate but said the City Council should work on lowering taxpayer's bill for fiscal 2022 by reducing budget increases.

"In the future we should look at increasing the budget a little bit less as property values increase and the income to the city goes up, and look at actually reducing tax bills," he said Tuesday.

City Council is set to approve the tax rate at first and second readings Sept. 9 and Sept. 21, respectively, according to Polanco.

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