Bay County residents: do you know what you pay in property taxes?

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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — A modest homeowner in Bay County currently faces thousands of dollars in property taxes each year.

That money pays for everything from police and fire departments to local schools, water and sewer, and even mosquito control. And in just a few weeks, voters will face a decision: do they want their taxes to go up again?

Bay County residents will vote on a proposed tax increase in a referendum on April 20.

Bay District Schools is proposing a 1-mill increase on property taxes. BDS officials said this increase will help pay for various school services and salary increases.

“I promised our employees I would do what I could to try to get the wages up to where we all believe they need to be,” Bill Husfelt, BDS Superintendent, said.

For residents in Panama City with homes worth $100,000, this is the breakdown of the approximate property taxes you pay per year:

  • Total– $1,563.43
    • School– $596.80
    • County– $443.62
    • City– $499.90
    • Mosquito– $20.00
    • Water– $3.11

Next door in Lynn Haven, these are the approximate property taxes you pay per year if you own a $100,000 home:

  • Total– $1,493.53
    • School– $596.80
    • County– $443.62
    • City– $430.00
    • Mosquito– $20.00
    • Water– $3.11

The taxes get steeper when you own more expensive homes.

For example, if you own a $1 million home in Panama City Beach, these are the approximate property taxes you pay every year:

  • Total– $10,785.30
    • School– $5,968.00
    • County– $4,436.20
    • City– N/A
    • Mosquito– $350.00
    • Water– $31.10

In Mexico Beach, residents with homes valued at $1 million approximately pay this in property taxes per year:

  • Total– $18,635.30
    • School– $5,968.00
    • County– $4,436.20
    • City– $8,000.00
    • Mosquito– $200.00
    • Water– $31.10

Voters will probably have this in mind when they go to vote for the proposed school referendum.

No matter where you live in Bay County, all residents pay the school system the same rate.

Here is the breakdown of the current school tax rates per year:

  • $100,000 properties– $596.80
  • $500,000 properties– $2,984.00
  • $1 million properties– $5,968.00

Here are the proposed school tax rates per year:

  • $100,000 properties– $696.80
  • $500,000 properties– $3,484.00
  • $1 million properties– $6,968.00

The proposed millage increase has been controversial among some groups, including Bay County Taxpayers LLC, a group started by local dermatologist Dr. Jon Ward.

“If you look at what would happen if you pass this millage increase, you would go to over $8,500 in operational funding per student,” Ward said earlier this month. “That is a figure that is well above any county in the Panhandle.”

There are exemptions in Florida that reduce the tax burden on homeowners, including the homestead exemption.

The Bay County Property Appraiser’s office said the homestead exemption “reduces the taxable value of the property that you use as your permanent residence by an amount up to $50,000.”

Dominic Calabro, the president and CEO of Florida TaxWatch, said Bay County is poised for substantial growth, but it will take some work along with checks and balances on government spending.

“Not every dollar [spent in your household] has the same impact,” Calabro said. “Not every tax spent has the same negative or positive effect, so you have to be thoughtful.”

Before election day, Calabro said voters need to educate themselves on this referendum before showing up to the polls.

“[Voters] better do some due diligence and do your homework,” Calabro said. “Help [government officials] do their jobs better by participating in how they can spend that money on infrastructure needs that are really important.”

The school board referendum and municipal election will be held on Tuesday, April 20 from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Early voting begins on April 12 and ends on April 16.

For an extensive list of various approximate property taxes in every city in Bay County, view the file below.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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