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Carrabelle to hold the line on taxes

The Carrabelle city commissioners plan to adopt the rollback
rate, ensuring the city will receive the same amount of ad valorem revenues for
the upcoming fiscal year it received during the current year.

At the August 25 budget workshop for the general fund and water
and sewer budget, commissioners agreed in principle to adopt the rollback rate
of 8.38 mills, from the rate of 9.0 mills that the city has adopted for seven
consecutive years.

Because the Carrabelle tax base grew, the rollback rate is
possible. According to Property Appraiser Rhonda Skipper, the combined valuations
grew by a tad less than 7 percent, or by about $8.58 million, boosting the tax
base from $122.9 million to $131.4 million.

“Knowing a millage rate of 9.0 would actually increase
property taxes, and understanding the city is capable of operating next year with
the same revenues as received this year, I advised the clerk in advance of the workshop
that I would request to use the rollback millage rate,” Mayor Brenda La Paz
said in her report to the Sept. 2 commission meeting.

She said that at the workshop, commissioners reviewed the
upcoming state requirement that gradually increases the minimum wage to $15 an
hour by the year 2026. This would mean that beginning on Sept. 30, the minimum
wage will go from $8.65 per hour to $10. The mayor produced a spreadsheet
showing how this new mandate will affect next year’s budget, as well as the budgets
over the next six years.

“Keeping this requirement in mind, we – this commission –
took a good long look at the clerk’s proposed budget,” La Paz said. “With the
help of all the department superintendents who attended the workshop, we were
able to whittle away at some of the budget line items in each department to allow
for a $1 per hour wage increase for all job positions to keep wages
commensurate with the required minimum wage increase – all this while keeping
the roll back millage rate at 8.38.”

In her report at the regular meeting, La Paz said the last
time the city’s millage rate was near the rate of 8.38 was in the fiscal year
2012-13 when it stood at 8.27 mills.

“I thank Clerk Messer for agreeing to use the rollback rate,”
she said. “I thank the department superintendents for attending the workshop to
help us work through this process. I appreciate the commissioners detailed
review of the proposed budget, making workable suggestions, and for being good
stewards of the city’s assets without increasing property taxes next year.”

She went on to praise city employees for their handling of two
major storm warnings in August, with Tropical Storm Fred making landfall closest
to Carrabelle on August 16 at Cape San Blas.

“In preparation for Tropical Storm Fred, all city
departments checked off the items on their hurricane preparedness checklists,
remained on standby over the preceding weekend, and all departments including
City Hall remained opened and on duty on the day of landfall,” La Paz said. “This
is great work and dedication to the city and its citizens.”

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Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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