Port St. Lucie lowers millage rate amid complaints over rising property taxes
The Port St. Lucie City Council voted to lower the millage rate on Monday night as homeowners expressed concerns about being pushed out of their homes because of higher property taxes.
Those homeowners acknowledged increases in home evaluations are driving the increases in property taxes. But they believe the city could further lower the millage, which is used to calculate property taxes, to provide additional relief since the city is adding about 82 positions while having a larger tax base. City staff said in a memorandum to council members that those additions are necessary to meet an increase in services due to growth.
Cathi Habemehl, who lives in Port St. Lucie, said she is struggling to pay a property tax bill because she's a senior on a fixed income and the amount owed has almost doubled in less than two years. She said she's struggling to find the money to afford her Port St. Lucie home and assisted living services for her husband.
"It's just frustrating," Habemehl said. "It's just very, very frustrating. Every year, everything goes up."
Habemehl said navigating the process to understand her property tax bill has been difficult. She said she's receiving help from John Moler, who is also a retiree frustrated with a property tax bill increasing at a higher rate than expected. He said the community is filled with retirees who are in similar situations and don't want to return to the workforce.
"You're on a fixed income," he said. "We're all retirees. I'm 76 years old. I'm not going back to work."
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median price of a home was about $250,000 from 2017 to 2021. According to real-estate websites like Redfin, the price is now closer to $330,000.
Council members said they are trying to help make Port St. Lucie more affordable by reducing the millage rate, which they said has been done for the past seven years. However, council members said they need money for services because the city's population is growing.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city's population is estimated at 231,790. In 2010, the estimated population of Port St. Lucie was 164,603.
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