Property taxes going up in Nassau County. Is gas tax next?

County commissioners hike millage rate, considering raising gas taxes

NASSAU COUNTY, Fla. – Property taxes are going up for some Nassau County residents, and a gas tax could be next.

The Nassau County Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 to approve a tentative 1.5 total millage rate increase for unincorporated areas of the county. That involves all areas except the city of Fernandina Beach, and inside the town limits of Hilliard and Callahan.

The millage rate is $1 for every $1,000 in taxable property value.

Commissioners said they needed to raise the millage rate because of growth and need for better public services.

"We are where St. Johns (County) was about 10 years ago," said Nassau County Budget Director Justin Stankiewicz. "We've seen about a 13,000 population increase since 2007. We anticipate being at the 100,000 plus mark by 2024-25."

According to Florida TaxWatch, Nassau County's property taxes rank 40th among Florida's county governments. In comparison, Duval County ranks 14th.

Millage rate $1 of tax for every $1,000 in taxable property value

Nassau County residents have mixed thoughts about taxes going up.

"Taxes are probably about where they need to be," said Daryl Johnson, who has lived in Nassau County for 30 years. "As far as residents, I didn’t ask for all this and I don’t think I should have to pay for it. A lot of businesses are coming in. They should probably be the one paying for it."

Nassau County business owner Doug Adkins said he believes the property tax rate hike will affect people on a fixed income the most. 

"These nickel and dimes that they’re talking about ... these are real dollars for younger families," Adkins said. "These are the differences between being able to pay a $20 fee for T-ball registration and other things."

Not only is the county raising the millage rate, commissioners are also considering adding a 5-cent per gallon local option gas tax. Based on the Florida Department of Revenue data, that would bring Nassau County gas tax to the maximum allowable and would match Alachua County for the highest rate among Northeast Florida counties.

Last year, the county tried to add the gas tax, but it failed.

"Over 33 percent of the people that use our gas do not live in Nassau County, so it allows us to shift the burden to people who don't live here but do use our roads," Stankiewicz said.

It's estimated the gas tax would bring in $1.7 million.

"I would be completely OK with that as long as we know exactly where the money's going," Nassau County realtor Todd Shaffer said. "I have no issues with that at all because there are some roads, not the main roads, that do need to be addressed."

According to the Board of Commissioners, if the gas tax passes with a 4-1 majority vote, it will become effective in January.

But some believe the people should vote on it, not commissioners. 

"You got to make your case, make your argument, put it on the ballot. And if the voters want to go about it, then fine," Adkins said.

Residents can learn more about the proposed gas tax and voice their thoughts on it at a public meeting on Aug. 13. 

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Lifetime Floridian anchors weekends and reports weekdays on issues in Nassau and Baker counties and beyond.