Milton officials propose property tax hike in 2023 budget

Milton residents could see a property tax increase as part of the fiscal year 2023 budget, the city’s third increase since 2015.

Under the proposal, the tax rate would increase from $0.252 per $100 of assessed value to $0.299 per $100 of assessed value, an increase of 18%. Property taxes are Milton’s biggest revenue generator; through fiscal 2022, the city is expected to receive $1.235 million, about $15,000 more than expected. With this increase, fiscal year 2023 is expected to generate $1.5 million.

In addition, the proposed budget includes a 15% increase in business licenses, an increase in waste and recycling fees from $61.50 per quarter to $63.50 per quarter, and an increase in the availability of water and user fees. It should be noted that the garbage and recycling fees are stipulated in the city’s contract with the supplier GFL Environmental, while the income generated from the water fees is limited to be spent on the improvement of the water system. ‘water.

City Manager Kristy Rogers’ budget shows the city has a slight surplus, with $4.75 million in revenue versus $4.69 million in expenses.

Other notable items in the budget include the use of $250,000 in property transfer tax for public safety operating expenses. Transfer tax income is limited by state law to certain uses. Rogers has said in the past that her projected revenue isn’t exactly what she thinks the city will collect, but what the city intends to spend, with the rest going into reserve funds the city has. recently used for capital improvement projects. The draft budget provides for $587,000 in transfer tax revenue.

While tax increases are typically used to fund big projects, that’s not the case with this budget.

At the August 1 council meeting, Mayor John Collier said, “This is a tough budget year for us. Quite frankly, we have spent many years saving money and keeping taxes down. We can no longer cut corners. I see no way to provide the same level of service that people are comfortable receiving without raising taxes.

Collier said major large-scale capital improvement projects are those carried over from previous years, such as the Magnolia Street bulkhead and drainage project, which began July 27 with a price tag of $1.2 million. of dollars. Although half of this cost is funded by a state grant, the city’s share of the project is larger than expected due to supply chain issues and rising material costs.

“We’re not the ones trying to get into your pockets,” Collier said. “It’s just us trying to provide citizens with what you’re used to having.”

He said the city was fortunate to receive US Federal Bailout Act funding to plan a new well and processing facility on city-owned land on Federal Street, as well as a Sussex County Land Transfer Tax Grant. Collier said city officials are trying to put that money to use for citizens to improve the water system, streets and sidewalks.

The city previously raised property taxes in fiscal years 2015 and 2021, with taxes rising 11% in 2015 and 5% in 2021. The budget is under review by the city’s finance committee, council likely to hold a public hearing at its Meeting on Monday 15 August. Following this hearing, additional changes will be made as the budget is finalized. According to city code, the budget must be in place by September 30, with the 2023 fiscal year beginning October 1.

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