With a pandemic spreading in the community, businesses shut or limping along, and many residents out of work and struggling to pay mortgages and rent, the Fernandina Beach City Commission voted 3-2 Tuesday to get more property tax money in Fiscal Year 2020-21. Legally, the commission could reduce the millage rate for the next fiscal year in the coming weeks but they cannot increase it.
Mayor Johnny Miller and commissioners Phil Chapman and Chip Ross voted in favor.
According to a Facebook post from City Commissioner Mike Lednovich, who voted no on the “adjusted” rollback millage rate of 5.4683 for the city’s share of ad valorem property taxes, “Vice Mayor (Len) Kreger and myself voted against the rate. We voted for the rollback rate … to lower taxes in the city. Budget workshops are scheduled for Aug. 5 and Aug. 11.”
Public hearings on the city’s budget and taxes are scheduled for Sept. 8 and 22.
The rollback rate Lednovich refers to is 5.2977 mills, the city property tax rate used last fiscal year. One mill would equal $1 in tax per $1,000 of assessed value of a property before Homestead Exemption and other discounts are applied.
As City Manager Dale Martin pointed out in a News-Leader column on July 24: “The increase in the Assessed Value of many properties (if classified as a ‘homestead’ property) is limited to no more than 3% or the rate of inflation, whichever is less (in this case, the 2020 rate of inflation is 2.3%).”
Meantime, in an executive order signed Wednesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis extended the state’s limited moratorium on foreclosure and eviction actions until Sept. 1.