County administrator responds to questions about proposed increase in property tax rate

Regional roadways are the primary reason for a proposed increase in the 2019-20 Sumter County property tax rate. The regional network connects The Villages with South Sumter through roadways like Marsh Bend Trail, the roadway shown to the left, and Warm Springs Avenue, the roadway shown at the bottom.

Over the past couple of months, Sumter County Administrator Bradley Arnold has responded to hundreds of resident inquiries about the County Commission’s proposed increase in the 2019-20 property tax rate. Residents raised the following questions at a recent tentative budget hearing.

After 14 years without a tax increase, why is it needed now?

Per our agreements with the cities of Sumter County, the county is the provider for all regional roads. As such, the county is supporting the city of Wildwood’s expansion with the regional roads, as we both leverage significant private investment to support the road network construction. The regional road network serves the entire county, spurs economic development, creates jobs and sets the stage for another long run of low property taxes in Central Florida. In addition to the infrastructure support, the county provides the foundational services for the cities that includes safety support for all the schools, fire and ambulance services as examples that will grow as the customer base grows.

Why is The Villages development approval process, with particular emphasis on roads, different for the development south of SR 44 than north of SR 44?

The answer to the question starts with the fact that north of SR 44 the vast majority of The Villages development was approved by the Sumter County board of county commissioners and south of SR 44, The Villages development is being approved by the city of Wildwood.

What’s the biggest misconception about how this will impact my tax bill?

Most property owners received their Truth in Millage notice from the Sumter County Property Appraiser’s Office, which shows each of the taxing authorities’ proposed increases or decreases, coupled with any non-ad valorem assessments.  In this notice, the actual impact of each taxing authority is shown; and, together, the overall dollar percentage impact is lower than some residents were originally anticipating.

How high will my total Sumter County taxes be compared to other counties?

Over the next five years starting in 2019, the property tax rate is projected to be at or below 6.7 mills to support the goal of being one of the lowest total property tax rates in the state of Florida.

—  David R. Corder, Daily Sun