How much more would homeowners pay in real dollars?

The proposal would raise the millage rate, or property tax rate, from 5.3365 to 6.7000. Sumter County’s median home taxable value is $145,000. In other words, the impact on a home with a taxable value of $145,000 would go from a tax bill of $773 annually to $971 — a difference of $198.

Why does Sumter County need a tax increase now?

It’s a matter of public safety, said County Administrator Bradley Arnold. For example, the county says it needs eight more Sheriff’s Office employees to keep pace with the growing population, and a new state law mandates more security upgrades in schools. The cost to the Sumter County School District to meet those school requirements alone is more than $1 million. Arnold said that rapid development also triggers needs for more “regionally significant roads” and the improvement of existing roads.

What are the commissioners saying?

“As we become a metropolitan area, we all know it costs more to function in Orlando than in Center Hill,” District 2 Commissioner Doug Gilpin said. Arnold emphasized that “our vision and mission is to provide the most effective and efficient delivery of services related to all of Sumter County and not just The Villages.” Added Commission Chairman Don Burgess: “With population growth comes the responsibility for protecting our citizens, protecting our schools and making sure our roads are ready for all types of growth.”

How would the new tax rate rank among other counties?

Even after the proposed increase, Sumter’s tax rate will remain the lowest in the tri-county area, and is the fourth lowest in the state. Sumter homeowners would pay 12.4001 mills in total combined taxes when schools and other special taxing districts are factored in, compared to 15.1938​ mills in Lake County and 16.7854 mills in Marion County.

Where would that road money go?

About $20 million is needed for these projects:

- $6 million to improve Morse Boulevard and Stillwater Trail to State Road 44

- $6 million to improve Buena Vista Boulevard, north of Palmer Legends to County Road 44A

- $4.3 million to resurface CR 478 from SR 71 to Center Hill

- $2.5 million for a four-lane remainder of Marsh Bend Trail to CR 470

- $2.5 million to widen and realign CR 525E from U.S. 301 to CR 525/CR525E west of CR 525, providing improved access to the Governor Rick Scott Industrial Park and stages for future realignment of U.S. 301 around Coleman

- $1.1 million to design four lanes for Buena Vista Boulevard from SR 44

to Meggison Road

What could ease future tax shares?

Commercial developments, such as the $200 million valuation on the Center for Advanced Healthcare at Brownwood and Brownwood Hotel & Spa, and the future Governor Rick Scott Industrial Park, will boost the county’s tax base. Other amenities under construction will likely ignite more tourism revenue.

Why such a big increase now?

For perspective, Sumter County’s current tax rate is almost half of what it was 20 years ago. Commissioners say they steadily rolled the rate back over the years because there was no private development to justify supporting their long-held goal of a regional road network. Now that The Villages has launched a major expansion in the southern area of the county, there is actual growth to support the collection of private dollars to make that possible.

What happens next?

Arnold has invited residents to email questions to him at bradley.arnold@sumtercountyfl.gov or to call him at 352-689-4400. The commission will vote on the proposal at a final public hearing at 6 p.m. Sept. 24 at Savannah Center. “We’re still listening to people,” Burgess said. “We are looking forward to answering further concerns.”