The rapid rise in the value of homes in Palm Beach Gardens created a happy quandary for city officials: Take in more money than spelled out in a 10-year forecast or trim the tax rate?
Staff recommended trimming the rate and on Thursday night City Council members agreed.
While the value of most homes in the city is rising by 3 percent this year, the tax rate will go down by 2.8 percent. That means homes with homestead exemptions will see a tiny increase in the amount they owe the city on their tax bills this fall.
Owners of other property, such as rental homes, seasonal homes and commercial land, will pay more since their valuations can rise up to 10 percent under state law.
Overall, the city’s tax base rose by 15.5 percent, the second straight year of double-digit increases. The rapid rise in the value of homes, inflation and the city’s rapid growth, with new construction at Alton and Avenir, contributed to the rise.
The City Council voted 4-0 Thursday to lower the tax rate to $5.17 per $1,000 of taxable value from $5.32. Mayor Chelsea Reed was absent.
The owner of a $500,000 home in 2022, with a 3 percent rise in value, would pay just $10 more to Palm Beach Gardens under the proposed rate.
Tax bills also include the county, which voted to lower its rate, the school district and several smaller agencies.
For a home with a homestead exemption worth $500,000 in 2020, the value now likely would be about $538,000. That owner would pay just $25 more in taxes to the city this year than they did four years ago.
To avoid a tax increase and raise the same amount of money this year as last, the city would have had to cut the tax rate by 9 percent to $4.75. Most cities do not try to hit that state-defined “rollback” rate.
In last year’s 10-year forecast, the city locked in the $5.32 figure. But city Finance Director Arienne Panczak told the council that with valuations coming in higher than expected budgets would still balance for the next 10 years with the lower rate.
Council members lauded the recommendation with Bert Premuroso calling it “impressive” and a trend in the right direction.
The council will see budget figures later this month, staff said. The budget will be presented to the city’s Budget Review Board on Sept. 27.
New spot for pickleball courts
City Manager Ron Ferris announced that the city’s plan to build 12 pickleball courts in Oaks Park, which is north of Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center, has been changed.
“We received some information from all across the nation doing some additional research of the troubles in residential areas where pickleball courts are located,” Ferris told the council. “Apparently the sound of the ball hitting the paddle carries quite well.”
Rather than build 12 courts near homes in Oaks Park, the city will build 24 courts in place of the “underutilized” soccer field at Lilac Park, he said.
Lilac Park is just north of Palm Beach Gardens High School, west of Interstate 95, and connected to the Burns Road Community Center complex by a walking path.
The city already has 12 pickleball courts across Lilac Street from the soccer field at Plant Drive Park. On a recent Saturday night, those courts hummed with activity.
Work will begin in late July and be done by the end of the year, Ferris said.
The money will come from the $1 million allocated toward pickleball courts at Oaks Park in a $20 million loan the city took out in March. Half of the loan proceeds are going toward renovating the Burns Road Community Center.
Ferris said council members had been fully informed prior to the July 13 meeting.
“I just wanted to make sure we made a public announcement of what we were doing and why,” he said.
© 2023 Joel Engelhardt. All rights reserved.