Property Tax gets Hiked Up

With the recent property tax hike proposed by the city commission, students might find it harder to foot the bills.

The City Commission voted for a 19 percent increase in property taxes Sept. 10 that will affect property owners and apartment tenants. The commission’s decision will increase the property tax rate by a half mill. A mill is $1 in tax for every $1000 of assessed property value.

According to Raul Lavin, interim manager of the city’s Office of Budget Policy, the new plan will generate over $3.3 million for the city. Lavin said the city made the best decision in raising the property tax.

“If the city didn’t raise property taxes they would have to find another way of cutting $4 to $5 million out of the budget,” he said. “Without the property tax increase, administrative and public services would suffer, and if they suffer so do the citizens of Tallahassee.”

Dan Isaacs, the executive director of The Capital City Apartment Association and real estate broker for over 25 years, said the increase in property taxes has a good chance of effecting local apartment tenants. Nevertheless, rent will not increase immediately, he said. Most people have a yearlong lease, and probably will not see an increase until the following year.

An increase in taxes would cause owners to cut back on resources, which will affect the facilities and organization of the apartment complex. In turn, owners raise the rent to effectively and efficiently satisfy tenants, Isaacs said.

“If the cost for them [owners] goes up, the cost will probably go up for tenants,” he said.

Kevin Martin, 25, knows what it costs to live both on and off campus.

Since 1997, Martin has lived in a dorm, scholarship house and an apartment. Like most off-campus students, rent is the number one issue when he decides to move.

“The first thing I always check for is the rent, then I make my decision from there,” the senior, political science student from Hollywood, Fla. said. “Now with this raise in taxes, who knows where I’ll live for the next year.”

Oscar L. Crummity, FAMU’s interim director of housing, said students living on campus do not have to worry about the property increase. Currently FAMU is under a contracted agreement with University Gardens, with an additional 60 spaces at the Cottages of Magnolia.

On and off campus student housing is considered state property, Crummity said, and adheres to the university’s housing policies. The board of trustees decides on the rental rate increase for campus housing, which does not exceed rental rates throughout the city. Last year, the board voted to increase the rate by eight percent. The property tax increase would only affect private property within the city limits.

“We’re trying to maintain pace with the economy,” Crummity said.

Commissioners will meet again Sept. 24 to further discuss the property tax issue in a public hearing in City Hall.