Taxes will go up in Boca Raton and West Boca if beach and parks plan passes

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BOCA RATON — Boca Raton residents could soon be paying more in taxes if a proposed millage increase passes.

The new rate proposed by the Greater Boca Raton Beach and Parks District — an independent taxing district separate from the city council — would be 1.05%, up from the current rate of 0.8818%.

That would mean the tax owed to the district on a home assessed at $300,000 would go up to $315 a year from about $265. For a home assessed at $500,000, taxes would go to $525 from about $440. These amounts do not take homestead exemptions into account.

The district commission, made up of five elected commissioners, voted 4-0 at its Monday meeting to introduce the proposal. The new rate is tentative; it could come down.

The decision will be taken in September. The dates of the hearings have not yet been set.

“I just don’t think we have any other option,” Commission Chairwoman Susan Vogelgesang said at the meeting. “I think we have to increase the millage rate.”

The public can give their input at two meetings where commissioners and the public will discuss the proposed increase.

The district represents residents in city limits and a portion of West Boca as far west as the Turnpike.

It maintains Sugar Sand Park, Patch Reef Park, and the Boca Raton Swim Center, among other facilities, and contributes to costs at Gumbo Limbo Nature Center and at city beaches.

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The increase is needed to cover about $26 million the district owes to the city, which is more than the district’s total budget of $25 million, said Commissioner Steven Engel.

The district is legally required to pay some of its costs, such as beach renourishment. If it can’t afford that, it may need to cut hours of operation, reduce staff hours or even close one or more its facilities, Engel said.

“We don’t have the resources to sustain those kinds of increases, so our first priority is to see where we can cut our expenses and where the city can cut theirs and work out a budget that’s more in line with our financial revenue expectations,” he said.

Dates for public hearings will be determined at the district’s Aug. 2 meeting.

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