Green Cove Springs considering lower property taxes, higher fees

City leader floats idea to raise revenue, but meets resistance on council

GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. – A property tax issue in Green Cove Springs has city leaders discussing if there is a better way than property taxes revenue. An idea that’s being considered is to eliminate property taxes and raise fees on things like electric and water.

Green Cove Springs is the county seat in Clay and as a result, much of the county government is housed in a huge building, along with city hall and churches among the many buildings that are exempt from property taxes. That's one reason why City Councilman Mitch Timberlake brought up the idea of changing revenue streams to pay for city government.

The City Council hosted a special meeting about this last week just to discuss the idea. The majority of the council rejected the idea, but it's only in the formative stages right now and is tabled to come back up at a later date for discussion. No date has been set at this point.

Timberlake said there have been changes in how the state handles homestead exemptions, causing Green Cove Springs to bring in less money.

"This is the second one (proposal) in a number of years and our thought process was that we would prefer to look at raising revenues on fees for services rather than just relying solely on ad valorem taxes," Timberlake said.

He said roughly a third of properties don’t pay property taxes, so he brought up the idea to the city council this week to, at some point, do away with property taxes, and increase fees for things like electric and stormwater. 

Timberlake said that move would raise as much money as a property tax hike would.

The idea is to make funding city government a process that’s fairer, but not everyone supports the change.

"I wouldn’t like it because I live in an apartment," said resident John McGaughey.

Timberlake expects it will be a while before this is brought up again for discussion -- probably not this fiscal year.

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