By Suzy Kridner
One city in Southeast Volusia County has no debt, keeping its tax rate low.
Oak Hill City Clerk/Administrator Kohn Evans said last week, "Oak Hill is debt free and will pass that tax savings on to the residents."
While Oak Hill's rate was reduced, Edgewater's tax rate increased and New Smyrna Beach's stayed at the rollback rate.
In New Smyrna Beach, there was considerable discussion at two earlier meetings whether to approve the tax rate as proposed by city staff, which would bring in an additional $81,226, or to approve the rollback rate of 3.4445 for the operating millage and a rate of 0.613 mills to pay required principal and interest on general obligation bonds.
Tuesday night, New Smyrna Beach commissioners were unanimous on the roll back rate for the general fund budget of $18,825,965, a decrease of 1 percent from last year's tax rate of 3.4793. The total budget is $44,287,552. Several commissioners said earlier this month, the loss of $81,226 could be funded through a budget transfer from the city sanitation fund.
Also at Tuesday's meeting, the City Commission conducted a public hearing of an ordinance that when adopted approved the budget for the Utilities Commission for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2013. The total budget approved earlier by the Utilities Commission is $63,680,362, a 2.9 percent decrease from the 2011-12 budget of $65,592,433.
The Edgewater City Commission Monday night approved an operating tax rate of 6.50 per $1,000 assessed value, which represents an increase of 2.2 percent from the rollback rate of $6.36.
The debt service levy is 0.0612 mill.
The city's operating budget is $12.2 million, with a total budget of $40.3 million approved at the meeting.
City Manager Tracey Barlow said last week that the city needed funds for two new patrol cars and other projects, such as street repaving, that have been postponed through the years.
About $78,600 will be raised with the tax increase. The City Council also approved salary increases for city employees of 2 percent.
In Oak Hill, although it has no debt, funds still need to be raised to operate the city.
Ms. Evans said in the current year, the loan for the city's tractor and another loan for renovations were paid off and city officials decided to pass the tax savings on to the residents.
The Oak Hill City Commission voted unanimously Monday to adopt an operating millage rate of 5.9669, which will raise $479,128 for the general fund, part of the $1.075 million total budget.
Ms. Evans said Oak Hill was able to reduce the tax rate because of a $4 million increase in assessed valuation.
"We had some annexations and some nice houses built on the river," said Ms. Evans. These homes haven't been homesteaded yet, she said, with two on the river and three in the city.
"Last year we did 40 annexations," she said.
"This year the city is working on offering more water and sewer services on U.S. 1," she said.