CLEARWATER — Last year, Clearwater increased property tax rates for the first time in nearly a decade.This year, city officials announced that decision won't be the start of a trend.
Clearwater budget manager Kayleen Kastel announced a recent City Council meeting that the maximum property tax rate will stay at the current level under the city's proposed 2019-2020 budget: $5.95 per $1,000 of assessed, taxable property value. A homeowner with a house assessed at $250,000 with $50,000 in exemptions would pay $1,190 in city property taxes. Even without a rate change, most homeowners will see higher bills because of increasing property values.
The rate freeze comes amid good financial news for the city. Property values shot up 6.8 percent in 2019, Kastel said, citing figures from the Pinellas County property appraiser. Total property values stand at $11.9 billion, meaning the city has fully recovered from the Great Recession.
The elevated property values mean the city is projected to bring in an additional $4.4 million in property taxes. The council can lower the rate, but not increase it. Clearwater will hold public hearings on the proposed budget on Sept. 5 and Sept. 19 at 6 p.m. at the Clearwater Main Library, 100 Osceola Ave.
Published by Kirby Wilson, Tampa Bay Times July 25