Miami-Dade Mayor Proposes Rare Tax Rate Dip. Here’s What That Means For Homeowners

The tax rate for Miami-Dade County real estate dips 1% in the 2024 budget proposal Mayor Daniella Levine Cava just released, a plan that would still mean slightly higher tax bills for homeowners in a year when the county government faces dwindling COVID cash from Washington.

After almost a decade of flat taxes, Miami-Dade would have its second annual rate cut as high inflation sparks calls for relief from the property-tax bills mailed out in the fall. Those bills would still be higher due to property values outpacing the proposed cut, while the lower rate on the countywide property tax would cost Miami-Dade revenue as it faces multiple financial challenges.

Levine Cava plans a press conference on Monday, July 17,  to pitch her $11.7 billion spending plan ahead of a county commission vote the next day to set a ceiling on tax rates for the 2024 budget year.

“As I move into the third year of my term, we must continue making smart, targeted investments that afford everyone in Miami-Dade County the freedom to prosper and thrive,” Levine Cava said.

While a 12% spike in property values is giving the county treasury a boost, Miami-Dade also is seeing an end to the more than $300 million in federal COVID aid that funded some police salaries, jail expenses, trash-collection expenses and multiple grants, projects and initiatives in the 2023 budget.

Last fall, commissioners accepted Levine Cava’s proposal for a 1% reduction in 2023 for the four county property taxes, including those funding rescue services and municipal services outside city limits and the one that pays for the Miami-Dade library system. This year, Levine Cava wants flat rates for those taxes and a 1% drop in the countywide tax, currently at $462 for every $100,000 of a property’s taxable value.

Pedro Garcia, the county’s elected property appraiser, is urging commissioners to impose a larger cut in the countywide rate for the 2024 budget year, which begins Oct. 1.

“The steep increase in values, driven by a heated real estate market, will force many taxpayers to pay higher property taxes, which many cannot afford,” Garcia said in a memo to Levine Cava and commissioners last month. “I urge you to consider a 3% reduction in the countywide millage rate to help our residents cope with the increased cost of homeownership.”

Tax rate changes have been rare in Miami-Dade in recent years. The countywide rate was flat between 2015 and 2022.

Even slightly lower rates result in higher property taxes for most homeowners. Florida law limits increases in a primary residence’s assessed value to the rate of inflation up to 3%. With national inflation topping 6% the last two years, that’s meant maximum caps for taxpayers. (The state 3% cap only applies for primary residences with homestead exemptions. All other properties have a 10% cap.)

With home assessed values allowed to increase 3% and the countywide rate down 1%, that would mean about an extra $30 on the 2024 tax bill for a home assessed at $303,000, the average in Miami-Dade, according to Miami Herald calculations. With a flat countywide tax, the increase would grow to about $40 additional on the tax bill.

If the average homeowner would save $10 from the lower rate, add it up and the cost to Miami-Dade’s budget is likely around $17 million. That’s how much a 1% reduction was estimated to cost the budget in 2023, according to an analysis by the County Commission’s Office of Policy and Budget Affairs.

Last month, the office’s director, Jennifer Moon, issued a memo to commissioners warning of financial challenges ahead, including the opening of the new civil courthouse, the rapid-transit bus line in South Dade, new union contracts, and spinning off the police department, elections and tax collector’s offices into independent agencies with their own budgets.

“The coming expenses make it imperative for the board to approach any rate adjustment — either to the millage rates or to the fees charged — with an eye for the long‐term impact of the adjustment,” wrote Moon, a former county budget director. “While lowering a rate or mitigating a larger fee increase may be advantageous in the short‐term, it merely postpones the difficult decisions that need to be made in order to fund the services our residents expect.”

Source: Miami Herald

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