CRESTVIEW — Okaloosa County officials do not anticipate increasing the millage rate for residential property owners in the unincorporated area for fiscal year 2019.
Still, because of a projected, almost 6.3 percent increase in property values, the county could see a little more than $3.8 million boost in property tax revenue with the existing millage rate staying at 3.83 mills in the new budget year.
That rate equates to $383 per $100,000 of taxable property value. Last year, a majority of the County Commission approved the county’s first millage rate increase since fiscal 2014.
The new budget year begins Oct. 1. The commission is in the midst of examining next year’s proposed spending plan and has already had two budget workshops, with the latter one held on Monday.
The county’s overall proposed fiscal 2019 budget totals more than $383 million, which is more than $4.6 million, or about 1.2 percent, higher than the existing budget.
For the new budget year, the commission could consider whether to approve a 3 percent pay raise for all of the county's employees, including its 579 general fund employees, as well as Sheriff's Office employees in the ranks of sergeant and below.
The total cost of all of the possible pay increases would be a little more than $1 million, according to County Administrator John Hofstad.
“The foundation of our county is our employees,” Commissioner Carolyn Ketchel said at the board’s first workshop.
Commission Chairman Graham Fountain said some county employees have told him that their annual pay puts them “in the poverty range.”
A family/household of four people with a combined income of $25,100 is considered living in poverty, according to 2018 federal poverty guidelines for the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia.
During his budget presentation at the first workshop, Ashley noted that the Sheriff’s Office entry-level annual salary was raised last year to $37,500, which is below the county’s median income of $55,880.
The commission’s next budget workshop is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. next Monday at the County Administration Building in Shalimar.