Correction, 6/3/20: An earlier version of this article stated that the Thursday, September 3 and Tuesday, September 15 public hearings would be held in person at City Hall at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., respectively. “The City is planning to hold both these meetings virtually – both meetings start at 6 p.m. – individuals may participate as indicated in our virtual meeting notices which will be published at a later date for September,” corrected City Clerk, Lesley Demuth. The Gabber apologizes for any confusion.
Millage rates! Who’s excited about that? Not many people – but here’s why you should be.
The City of Gulfport has not increased the millage rate for nearly a decade. That’s not about to change, said council on Tuesday, July 21.
“I’m happy to announce that we are proposing a millage rate of 4.039 for the ninth consecutive year,” said City Manager Jim O’Reilly.
Councilmember Paul Ray praised City Manager Jim O’Reilly for being a good steward of the taxpayers’ money.
“It’s great when we can still maintain all the services and still maintain the millage rate,” said Ray.
“For all but three of your 12 years, we’ve maintained the same millage rate. That’s wonderful,” said Councilmember Christine Brown to O’Reilly. “We thank you for your leadership.”
Sounds great. But what, exactly, is a millage rate?
Broken down, the county and city provide services to residents such as schooling, public transportation, emergency medical services, and more, in return for money – money that comes from property taxes.
Gulfport city staff proposed a 4.039 mil tax rate to help pay for these services.
What is a mil? A mil is $1 of tax for every $1,000 of assessed, nonexempt property value.
A home’s taxable value is the assessed value of the home, minus any exemptions, so a home valued at $200,000 with $50,000 in exemptions is taxed at $150,000. With the proposed millage rate of 4.039 mils, Gulfport property owners will pay $4.039 for every $1,000 dollars of assessed value. In this example, the home has $150,000 of assessed value, so they will pay $605.85 annually.
Here’s the breakdown: $150,000 of assessed value, divided by $1,000 equals 150. That 150 multiplied by $4.039 equals $605.85.
Gulfport residents basically pay by the pound (or in this case, the mil) for city services.
According to O’Reilly, “Prior to adoption of the final budget on September 15, council can lower the millage rate.”
What about raising the millage rate? That’s not as easy.
“If you were to determine you wanted to raise it,” O’Reilly said to council, “it would require us, by mail, to notify every property owner in the city if you chose to raise it.”
“I remember when the millage rate was lower and we had to fight our way back up to something more sustainable,” said Mayor Sam Henderson. “Although not perfect for everybody, [this] has been a number that seems to be serviceable to us in good times and bad.”
Anyone who wants to comment on how much they pay the City of Gulfport for property taxes can attend public hearings at City Hall on Thursday, September 3 and Tuesday, September 15, at 6 p.m.