Destin plans to keep existing tax rate

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TONY JUDNICH @Tonyjnwfdn

DESTIN — Taxpayers will soon have several opportunities to give their input on the city’s proposed budget for fiscal 2018.

First, the Destin City Council will have its annual budget workshop at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 14. That session will be followed by budget hearings at 6 p.m. Sept. 6 and 18. Each public meeting will be in the council chambers, 4100 Indian Bayou Trail.

On Monday, the council gave tentative approval to retaining the existing property tax rate of 1.61 mills, or $161 per $100,000 of assessed value, for the new budget year.

“Setting the tentative millage rate at 1.615 mills will produce approximately $7,632,996 in ad valorem revenues, which represents $352,226 more tax revenue than FY 2017,” Finance Director Bragg Farmer said in a memo to the council.

He told the council the city saw a 4.84 percent increase in property values last year, compared to about a 6 percent increase the previous year.

Later during the meeting, Councilwoman Prebble Ramswell said while doesn’t favor any rate other than the 1.61 mills, one major issue that concerns her heading into the new budget year is the city’s need for stronger code enforcement.

“We’ve got to have more folks on code enforcement,” she said. “We’ve got to make sure that we can cover the things that we have a responsibility to provide to our citizens, which is code enforcement. And all of us have sat here and complained about that.”

Ramswell later noted that some of the city’s major needs last year were stormwater projects, and wondered if Destin has any “imminent, dire needs” other than code enforcement that must be addressed now.

City Manager Carisse LeJeune answered “yes,” and said a list of those needs will be presented at the Aug. 14 budget workshop.

“We are looking at a tight budget,” LeJeune said. “We will bring you a balanced budget.”

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