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City Tax Rate Cut Expected as Valuations Surpass One Billion Dollars

Millage Rate Cut Would Continue Trend of Recent Years

Another reduction in property taxes may be in the cards if Lake Wales city commissioners agree to a proposal from city staff to adopt the "roll-back rate" for the upcoming fiscal year as the city's values surpass a billion dollars for the first time.

In a document prepared for consideration at Tuesday's commission meeting, Finance Director Dorothy Abbott is recommending that the city accept the certified property values and adopt an interim millage rate of 6.3626. Once set, the "interim" millage rate may be reduced but not raised.

The 2021 millage rate was 6.7697. Each mill is equal to $1 in property tax levied per $1,000 of a property's assessed value. The reduction amounts to $.40 per thousand, granting an $80 tax cut to a home with a taxable value of $200,000.

The roll-back rate is the tax rate needed to raise the same amount of revenue after accounting for growth. The cut in the tax rate is made possible by a 19.32% rise in property values within the city limits due to new construction, improvements to existing properties, and vast annexations, which have raised the city's taxable value to more than a billion dollars.

For 2022 the City's gross taxable value is set at $1,062,074,168, according to the Polk property appraiser's figures. That is an increase in taxable value of $171,947,099 above the certified 2021 final gross taxable value of $890,127,069.

Annexations have added more than two square miles of land to Lake Wales city limits during the past year. As much of that new area is expected to host future development, taxable values are likely to continue to rise.

The proposal would continue a recent pattern of annual reductions. Lake Wales once had Polk County's top tax rate due to a fiscal crisis more than a decade ago but currently boasts reserves well above requirements. City commissioners are expected to adopt the new recommended rate Tuesday.


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