Budgets made by governments are often complex for the average citizen to read, let alone comprehend.
Taxpayers may not understand what their leaders are doing, but they get the bills for the debts and expenses. So, it’s good to know the jargon used by elected officials and professional staffers at this season of the year.
The portion of the budget that relies on property taxes, also known as ad valorem taxes, is called the general fund. The general fund may also be referred to as an operating budget. It includes spending for programs, activities and services and most salaries, along with the cost of law enforcement and firefighters. The general fund also covers the costs of maintaining and operating public facilities, such as city halls or courthouses, along with parks and recreation amenities.
Expenditures not covered in the general fund are those for programs that generate their own income, for example, utilities. These are often called “enterprise funds.” For example, a city’s water department may be expected to raise all the money it needs to operate.
Here are some other tax-season terms:
Ad valorem: A Latin phrase meaning, loosely, “according to value.” Property taxes are calculated based on the value of the property being taxed.
Millage: The millage rate states the number of dollars that will be collected on each $1,000 of property value. With a millage rate of 7, for example, the owner of a home worth $100,000 after exemptions would pay $700 in property taxes. The “taxable value” of a property is the value that remains after exemptions.
Rollback: This is the rate that would, generally, raise the same amount of money that the governmental entity brought in last year. Annexations and new construction aren’t counted to calculate the rollback rate.
And, because property generally rises in value year after year, the rollback rate is almost always lower than the current rate. Sometimes, elected officials brag that they “kept the tax rate the same as last year.” Almost always, however, doing so results in a tax increase, because property has increased in value.
— Al Everson
2021-22 ad valorem tax rate: 2.9247 mills
Tentative 2022-23 ad valorem tax rate: 2.9247 mills
Rollback tax rate: 2.7438 mills
How much higher than rollback: 6.19 percent
Total proposed 2022-23 budget: $47.9 million
General fund: $26.3 million
“The cost of construction is 25-40 percent higher,” City Manager Carmen Rosamonda said. Rosamonda said other inflationary pressures also support the need to maintain DeBary’s property-tax rate at its current level, rather than dropping to the rollback rate.
2021-22 ad valorem tax rate: 7.85 mills
Tentative 2022-23 ad valorem tax rate: 7.65 mills
Rollback tax rate: 6.8141 mills
How much higher than rollback: 12.27 percent
Total proposed 2022-23 budget: $228.5 million
General fund: $102.2 million
“I have called for rollback every single year,” Commissioner Loren King said, before the Deltona City Commission voted to set the maximum millage rate at 7.65.
The proposed figure for next year is less than the 7.85 mills recommended by Acting City Manager John Peters, but 12.27 percent higher than rollback.
“If you leave the millage rate the same, and the [property] values go up, you are paying more in taxes,” King noted.
2021-22 ad valorem tax rate: 7.79 mills
Tentative 2022-23 ad valorem tax rate: 7.69 mills
Rollback tax rate: 7.1503 mills
How much higher than rollback: 8.95 percent
Total proposed 2022-23 budget: $39.2 million
General fund: $20.3 million
“Despite ongoing economic turbulence, including record inflation, the City’s financial condition remains strong,” City Manager Dale Arrington wrote in her budget message. “As a result of the City Council’s long-standing commitment to maintain a conservative budget and reserve balance, coupled with steady growth, the City is positioned to continue weathering the unforeseen challenges resulting from economic unrest.”
2021-22 ad valorem tax rate: 5.3812 mills
Tentative 2022-23 ad valorem tax rate: 4.8499 mills*
Rollback tax rate: 4.8499 mills
Total proposed 2022-23 budget: $1.06 billion
General fund: $376.6 million
“Once you get behind the eight-ball, you can’t hardly catch up,” County Council Member Ben Johnson said. “You can’t always cut the taxes and still provide the services.”
* This millage rate applies only to the county’s general fund.
2021-22 ad valorem tax rate: 6.7841 mills
Tentative 2022-23 ad valorem tax rate: 6.5841 mills
Rollback tax rate: 6.1520 mills
How much higher than rollback: 7.02 percent
Total proposed 2022-23 budget: $41.03 million
When the DeLand City Commission discussed the city’s preliminary budget in August, one common theme arose: From staff to construction materials, everything is costing more money. To bring on more staff, and to keep the city’s services in good shape for its growing population, the city staff cautioned that bringing the millage rate down to the rollback rate might not be possible.
2021-22 ad valorem tax rate: 5.8358 mills
Tentative 2022-23 ad valorem tax rate: 6.100 mills
Rollback tax rate: 5.2439 mills
How much higher than rollback: 16.3 percent
The Pierson Town Council will hold its first budget workshop Tuesday, Sept. 6. City officials were unable to provide detail about the tentative budget at press time. Check The Beacon’s website for updated information.
2021-22 ad valorem tax rate: 6.85 mills
Tentative 2022-23 ad valorem tax rate: 6.85 mills
Rollback tax rate: 6.15 mills
How much higher than rollback: 11.41 percent
Total Proposed 2022-23 Budget: $4,846,852
Myriad infrastructure needs are the driving force behind Lake Helen’s tentative 2022-23 ad valorem tax rate of 6.85, city commissioners have said.
WEST VOLUSIA HOSPITAL AUTHORITY
2021-22 ad valorem tax rate: 1.4073
Tentative 2022-23 ad valorem tax rate: 1.2645
Rollback tax rate: 1.2645
Total proposed 2022-23 budget: $17.8 million
The West Volusia Hospital Authority’s budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year is in a gray area due to ongoing litigation over whether the taxing authority should help Volusia County reimburse the state for Medicaid. The Hospital Authority will decide at its upcoming budget workshops whether to leave money in the budget for Medicaid in the event that the board loses its legal battle with Volusia County.