Clay County property owners will pay more in taxes next year

Millage rate will go up from 8.101 to 8.601

Millage rate will go up from 8.101 to 8.601.

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – Clay County property owners will pay more in taxes next year.

The Clay County Board of County Commission voted to raise property taxes, referred to as a millage increase, for the first time in six years.

The millage rate will go up from 8.101 to 8.601. So, if you have a $250,000 home with a $50,000 homestead exemption, that will equal out to $100 more a year you pay in property taxes.

The reason is to help fund the Clay County Sheriff’s Office and Clay County Fire Rescue. The Sheriff’s Office, particularly, has struggled to keep employees who have made lower wages than in other counties.

“We can’t print money, so we have to look for other sources of revenue,” Clay County Commissioner Jim Renninger told News4Jax. “And if somebody says there are ways you can save money in other areas of the budget, well, tell me where they’re at.”

Renninger says 37% of Sheriff’s Office employees were making below market minimum.

“We lost 180 deputies in the last 3.5 years. We became a training ground. That costs money. It was over $6.1 million in being a training ground for JSO (Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office), as well as St. Johns,” Renninger said.

But there are concerns. Commissioner Betsy Condon represents Keystone Heights and Middleburg where wages are lower. Condon says she fully supports police and fire but voted against the tax hike, saying it will be hard on her constituents.

“The citizens of District 4 asked me to — those that were not connected with the Sheriff’s Office or Fire Department. I talked to a number of them who said make do with what you have,” Condon said.

There were a variety of reactions in the News 4 Clay County Facebook group.

“Near the bottom of the state for compensating our deputies and our current staffing levels reflect that,” one person wrote.

Another wrote: “So much waste in the local economy that could have been used for this and not raise our tax’s (sic).”

Renninger says that despite the tax hike, Clay County is 25th in population but 62nd in Florida in overall tax spending.

About the Author:

Specializes in Clay County issues, general assignment reporting and stories off the beaten path and anchors weekend evening newscasts.