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Port St. Lucie Millage Rate Goes Down Again, But Property Taxes Rise; Council Gets an Earful

Felix Mizioznikov -

Port St. Lucie - Monday September 18, 2023: It was a rough public hearing in Port St. Lucie last week when the city announced the proposed new millage rate that will be used to calculate property taxes in the city.

The rate went down, but property taxes for many are going up.

“The proposed operating millage rate is 4.7057. This represents a 10th reduction over the last year," said Caroline Sturgis, City Budget Director, announcing the new millage rate at last week's City Council meeting. It’s down again, she said. But property taxes are going up.

“So one may ask why aren’t their taxes going down although the millage rate is being reduced," said Sturgis. "What is of significant note is that the assessed value has increased which is why the property taxes are increasing.”

The reduction in the milliage rate just wasn’t enough to offset surging home values, which are not set by the city, but by an independent assessor. But many residents weren’t buying it. Dozens turned out to give the council and the mayor an earful.

"This Board is not absolute. You can be removed by voting. And people’s anger right now will reflect in that voting," said Blake Angle.

"It is grossly grossly, unfair to increase somebody’s taxes by 100%," said Billy Gilbert, "when there has been no improvements to the property.”

“Good evening, My name is Rosemarie Jean. Me and my husband, we’re two professional people moved here from Broward, then I get a tax for ten-thousand dollars. We need to eat and bills still need to be paid. With this price, how is we supposed to maintain our property?”

Council members pointed out that of the 16 taxing authorities on your proposed tax bill, only two are controlled by the City, the property tax and debt payments, just 22% of the over-all bill.

But more importantly, surging population growth and real estate prices are driving the cost of services up for all taxing authorities.

“Over the last three years we have increased our residents by 34,802. That is double the size of the City of Stuart. And unfortunately, your city council is very limited in being able to stop that growth.”

Despite the tension, the Mayor said she was happy to see the turnout so many residents who had a chance to learn more about their city government.