Local property tax rates going up

A house on George Calvin Bess Jr. Way. Photo by Ranyah McCloud

Tallahassee city commissioners recently voted to increase the property tax rate 8.5%

with the bulk of the proceeds going to the Tallahassee Police Department. This decision was made during the commission’s final public hearing on the budget for the 2024 fiscal year.

Commissioners voted 3-2 to approve their $1.12 billion budget and new tax rate. Commissioners Jack Porter and Jeremy Matlow voted against, while Mayor John Dailey joined Commissioners Curtis Richardson and Dianne Williams-Cox in approving the tax hike.

The city followed right behind the county commissioners after they approved their $316 million budget and new tax rate. They also raised the Emergency Medical Service by 50% for the first time in 20 years, since the county’s ambulance service begin. Some community members are shocked but not surprised that the tax rates increased. LaTonya Morris, a homeowner, agrees but hopes that the funds used for TPD will be used the right way.

“This is a Catch 22,” Morris said. “As a homeowner, I agree that something needs to be done to help decrease the violence that’s on the rise and I pray that the monies will be used properly. Including de-escalation techniques and resources for officers encountering someone having a mental health crisis.”

The funds from the new tax rates will allow the Tallahassee Police Department to hire 20 additional police officers, increase their salaries, as well as get new advanced technology — specifically artificial intelligence. They believe that this is needed due to the city’s ongoing gun violence, especially after the summer surge in shootings. Elonza Morris III, a father and husband is concerned about the new tax rates.

“I’m a father of six and higher taxes means more money I’d have to spend to support my family’s needs. I also disagree with the bulk of the funds going to increase salaries for officers while teachers are barely making ends meet,” Morris III said. “In addition, why not make more funding available for mental health services to better combat gun violence in the community.”

Community members are not the only ones concerned about the rise of taxes and what
they’re really used for. Commissioner Matlow voiced his concern with where the money
is really going with the new tax rate.

“We all saw pictures from Amelia Island with people playing games on the beach but
tens of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money paid for city officials to go to that retreat,” Matlow said. “It’s not professional development, its not training, it’s just a party at the beach with the Chamber of Commerce and if we can’t put small things on the chopping block, just obvious things people don’t want their tax dollars being spent to, yeah, we’ll ask them for more of their hard-earned money when people are already struggling when we know it’s going to impact rents.”

Community members will soon start to see the impact of the new budgets.