CRESTVIEW — The Okaloosa County Commission recently gave its unanimous approval to setting the county’s tentative fiscal 2019 property tax rate at 3.83 mills.
It’s the same as the existing rate and equals $383 per $100,000 of taxable property value.
In the new budget year, the rate is projected to generate about $64.5 million in property tax revenue. Because of higher property values, that is about $4 million more than what was collected for the current budget.
The new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.
The county’s overall proposed fiscal 2019 budget totals about $387 million. That's more than $8.2 million, or about 2.2 percent, higher than the existing budget, County Administrator John Hofstad said at the commission’s final budget workshop Monday morning.
In the new fiscal year, the county plans to give a roughly 3 percent pay raise to all county employees, including the 579 general fund employees, as well as Sheriff’s Office employees with the ranks of sergeant and below.
Hofstad told commissioners that the staff also has budgeted slight funding increases for various nonprofit groups, including Elder Services of Okaloosa County.
The commission set the tentative fiscal 2019 millage rate at a special meeting on Monday afternoon.
At that meeting, Commissioner Carolyn Ketchel wondered what good is it for the county to have the lowest or one of the lowest millage rates in Florida if it cannot maintain its roads.
She then voiced support for the county’s 10-year, local option half-cent sales tax referendum, and indicated that the millage rate might be increased if the referendum fails.
If approved by a simple majority of voters in the Nov. 6 general election, the tax would take effect Jan. 1, 2019. It is expected to generate an estimated $17 million annually.
Much of the potential sales tax revenue would help pay for infrastructure projects such as road and stormwater work in the unincorporated area and local municipalities.
The commission’s two public budget hearings, which are needed in order to formally adopt next year’s millage rate and budget, are set for Sept. 4 and 18.