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THE INCOME SIDE When people think of city taxes, they often think only of the tax on property. Staff recom- mended, and the commission agreed, to hold the tax rate on property constant at 3.1728 mills. That will raise $19.3 million, a 5.14-per- cent increase over the revenue for the current fiscal year. That is because property values — for the third straight year — went up, this time by 5.35 percent for the city overall. However, one area of the city — the downtown tax-in- crement financing (TIF) district — does not contribute to the general fund; instead, it is limited to paying for improvements down- town. (The city has used TIF revenue to cover costs critics say should have been paid for by the city's general fund.) Thus, the increase in total revenue is reduced by the amount raised for the TIF district. Other revenue streams are projected to increase, with almost $300,000 more expected from the half-cent sales tax as the economy picks up. And the income from the excise tax on electric and water service plus fuel oil is expected to jump almost $1 million. The city is still struggling to claw back its property values after a nearly 40-percent drop in the 2009-2012 period. Many cities in Florida (most notably Fort Myers) increased their tax rates to compensate for the drop in property value. Sarasota's rate remained virtually the same, so tax revenues plunged from $22.3 million in 2008 to $16 million four years later. This was reflected in a cut of about one-third of the city workforce. The city's Parking Department will be seeking an attendant for the new State Street parking garage. Image courtesy City of Sarasota Sarasota News Leader August 1, 2014 Page 34

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