By Tim O’Meilia
For the fourth consecutive year Briny Breezes homeowners likely will pay the maximum tax rate allowed by law — $10 for every $1,000 of taxable property value.
The tentative rate set by town aldermen after two budget workshops and a council meeting in July also means homeowners will pay the same amount of town taxes as this year if their property value remains the same.
Alderman Sue Thaler opposed the maximum rate. “In a town this small, it creates too much of discrepancy in the taxes paid by those with homestead exemptions and those without,” she said. Alderman Lowen Poock was absent.
Mayor Roger Bennett said the maximum rate was necessary because of the possibility that Briny Breezes Inc., which owns the mobile home park, could withhold money as it did last year over water and sewer legal fees.
“The threat of the board withholding money still exists and we have no other way to make that up,” Bennett said at the July 11 workshop. “If nothing else, it’s for our protection although I don’t think the corporation would do that again.’’
The corporation pays 30 percent of the $305,000 cost of fire-rescue and of the $185,000 police contract. “We’re in a fortunate position to have the corporation as our backstop because our property taxes don’t pay all our bills, ” he said.
Property values fell 4.1 percent this year in Briny Breezes despite a slight increase last year, according to the Palm Beach County Property Appraiser, resulting in a loss of $14,000 in property taxes for the town. The town figures a $15,000 increase in its share of local sales tax.
The council set a tentative budget for next year of three percent less than the current budget — $599,455 — despite a four percent hike in the cost of fire-rescue service and an anticipated 5 percent increase in water and utility service, all provided through contracts with the city of Boynton Beach.
The council estimated that the cost would be made up by about a $1 per share annual increase to corporation shareholders, who are the homeowners. Shares are based on lot sizes. A typical owner has about 26 shares.
Both the tax rate and the budget must be approved at public hearings set for 5:01 p.m. Sept. 13 and 27.