Homestead tax breaks could increase, reducing Jacksonville budget

Voters will decide in November if homeowners get bigger tax break

By Jim Piggott - Reporter, Roxy Tyler - Web producer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - There's a chance homeowners in Jacksonville could pay less taxes through a larger homestead exemption. Voters will decide in the November elections whether to approve a constitutional amendment to save some homeowners hundreds each year and leave the city with less money to use.

"Most homeowners that received this will get about a $300 savings on their tax bill starting next year if it passes and it does need 60% vote in order to pass statewide," said Jerry Holland, Duval County property appraiser. 

But not everyone will see that savings. It’s a sliding scale that requires a home to be valued at more than $120,000 to receive the tax break.

If Amendment 1 passes in November, Jacksonville could be short $27.4 million in tax revenue for next year. City leaders are already planning the budget as if the bill will pass.

Mayor Lenny Curry will present his proposed spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year which begins in October to the Jacksonville City Council Monday. But many fear in the following fiscal year, if the increase in homestead exemption passes, it will mean less money for new services. 

So it’s up to voters to decide whether they want to save money and force the government to make adjustments.

The city of Jacksonville could lose millions to this new homestead exemption if it passes.

Revenue Reduction if Amendment 1 passes
City of Jacksonville  $27,474,168.23
City of Jacksonville Beach $510,073.76
City of Atlantic Beach $211,847.80
City of Neptune Beach $143,380.66
City of Baldwin $2,982.94

 

Home values in Jacksonville are up due to the  booming economy, and that means the city is also getting more tax money. So far this year property values in Jacksonville have gone up by $4 billion which, in turn, gives the city more money to spend.

The mayor wants to hire more police and firefighters and improve city services, but he knows the extra tax money won’t last if Amendment 1 passes.

Read Amendment 1 HERE

If passed it would provide an additional $25,000 for homestead exemptions. Meaning, most homeowners would save money on their property taxes.

While that may sound good, not everyone will see that savings. It’s based on a sliding scale and that is what concerns a Jacksonville political watchdog group.

"It’s aimed squarely at a middle-class tax payer and is not solely benefiting those who really need it the most, whose houses are worth no more than $75,000," said John Winkler, with Concerned Taxpayers of Duval County.

It’s complicated, but in order to get the full $25,000 exemption a house would have to be valued at more than $120,000.

While many homeowners are happy about the possibility of saving an average of $300 a year, the city is calculating its potential loss of growth income and spending.

Property appraiser Jerry Holland said if the amendment passes in November, it won't mean major cuts for the city.

"It's not necessarily taking something away initially, as not making the amount of improvements the city would like to make to the infrastructure or quality of life," said Holland.

Another factor- as property values increase, the city will collect more tax money, but with the passage of Amendment 1, it won't be getting as much of an increase as in the past. 

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