Sumter leads in tax rankings again

Residents of Sumter County, which includes the Village of Marsh Bend, pictured, are expecting a tax break this year. The county is continuing its trend of having the lowest tax rates in the tri-county area.

When Sumter County homeowners find their tax notices in the mail later this month, they’ll see at least a 4% break on their property taxes — for the 14th time in the past 15 years. Marion County homeowners, by contrast, are expected to see a 6% increase in property taxes, and Lake County homeowners are expected to see no break, according to early budget proposals that will be finalized in September. The rates become official today when the state revenue department certifies them with each county’s property appraiser. County commissions and school boards may reduce, but not increase, the proposed rate at final budget hearings next month.

Even after a 1% increase in taxes collected by schools, Sumter County’s combined tax rate remains the lowest in the tri-county area and the ninth lowest of Florida’s 67 counties, according to state revenue analysis.

“What we’re doing is resetting the tax base to continue with the economic growth of the county,” said Sumter County Commission Chairman Steve Printz. “My belief is, and is starting to play out with this reduction, that we’re going to see history repeat itself with a decline in Sumter’s tax rate over time. We had a run of 14 years of either flat taxes or tax cuts. We’re going to see a similar profile take shape as we move forward. Given the economic activity, you visually can see this taking shape.”

Sumter County’s proposal would lower the millage rate from 6.7000 to 6.4309, a savings of $39 for a  home with a taxable value of $145,000, which is the median value for the county.

The Sumter School Board adopted a proposed tax rate of 5.352 mills, a 1.3% decrease. However, the change qualifies under state law as a tax increase because the proposed rate would bring in more revenue this year than the previous year.

“I’m hopeful for the future of the county,” said Printz. “We’re one of the safest counties in the state, with great schools. We’ve got low taxes, property value appreciation, a growing diversified economy, an expanding world-class health care system and a great lifestyle. That’s the complete picture.”

Senior writer David R. Corder can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5241, or david.corder@thevillagesmedia.com.