PANAMA CITY, Fla. — A heated exchange took place at the first Panama City budget hearing on Monday night, as the commission’s proposed millage rate, which is higher than the current one, passed it’s initial hearing.
“If everybody’s taxes here went up twenty-seven and a half percent, you guys wouldn’t be re-elected,” said one resident, unhappy with the tentative change. “What the heck are you guys doing to justify that much money increase?”
Mayor Greg Brudnicki’s response: “We have to fix the city.”
After the meeting, he added, “there has to be a plan and it’s not going to be cheap.”
As it stands, the rate would increase by about one hundred dollars for every one hundred thousand dollars of property value. How much property taxes go up or down depends mainly on how much their property values decreased after the storm.
“There will be an increase for some people,” said Brudnicki. “There will be a decrease for many people.”
Some residents are asking why federal money isn’t being used to offset those damages. The Mayor says federal monies aren’t immediately available.
“All bills that we incur we have to pay for right away,” he said. “In many instances, FEMA won’t reimburse us for years.”
Mark McQueen, the City Manager of Panama City, said on Monday that while the increased rate is not ideal, it’s what’s needed.
“The twenty-seven and a half percent increase will be what’s necessary just to hold even in terms of our ability to provide the services to our citizens,” said McQueen.
McQueen said that if a property owner feels their damages were incorrectly assessed, they can file an appeal on the property appraiser’s website.
The final hearing for the city’s 2020 millage rate and budget will be on Monday, September 23rd.
To learn more about local millage rates, click here.