BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — Bay County approved a budget for the 2023-24 fiscal year.

And that budget includes an increase in property taxes, the first in 10 years.

The millage rate will increase from 4.4 mills to 5.4 mills.

“We’re raising this millage just so we can keep our head above water and continue to operate the county,” Bay County Commissioner Bill Dozier said. 

Millage is the rate governments use to assess taxes based on property values.

Bay County property value has increased 16 percent in the last year.

Despite this increase, Dozier said the county was still looking at a spending deficit. 

“That’s because that money has been eaten up by the cost increase,” Dozier said. “So everything that has gone up across the board for the county, just like your home budget people, their home budget has gone up basically the same as the county Insurance costs going up, fuel costs going up, all these costs that continue to escalate.”

Despite pushback from residents the Bay County Commission unanimously voted to increase the millage rate. 

“That’s the last thing we wanted to do,” Dozier said. “But having no other choice, we only raise it to what we had to raise it to.”

Last week commission chairman Tommy Hamm blamed Panama City Beach’s Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) for forcing the increase.

“We are home to the richest CRA in the state by far percentage-wise,” Hamm said. “I think the CRA here pulls about 18 or 19% of our ad valorem,” Hamm said. 

But this week, there was no mention of CRAs. 

Dozier blamed variables he said are out of the commission’s control

“The revenue that that we’ve experienced in the past is not coming in now. As far as from the state. All of the insurance and everything has gone up dramatically. And so along with costs from our jail increases, that’s gone up and we’re having to address that.”

Dozier pointed out that, even with the increase, this higher county millage rate is less than it was when he took office in 2004.

The rate then was 5.6 mills

Commissioners said they’ll continue working to lower millage rates in the future.

Click here for information on the Bay County Property Appraiser