The city of Green Cove Springs is raising the millage rate for the fiscal year 2022/2023.
The current rate is 3.8000 mills. The council adopted the new tentative millage rate of 4.5000 mills at the first public hearing. The vote was unanimous.
The 4.5000 mills is an increase of 32.12% of the rolled-back rate of 3.4059.
The city says the increased rate will generate $730,979 more than the 2022 ad valorem revenue.
“I think it is horrible,” said Audrey Dornbusch about the increase. The 74-year-old said her 87-year-old neighbor cried when she got her estimated tax bill. The Clay County resident also questioned why Green Cove Springs would consider a hike when other jurisdictions in the county are not. “If they can do it on what they have, why can’t you?”
Dornbusch’s comments were met with a round of applause from the audience.
Another resident didn’t complain about the increase, but she questioned where the extra money was going.
“Every single bit of the millage rate increase is going to our employees,” said Mayor Matt Johnson.
Johnson said the city is “very deficient” in salaries and has been losing workers due to low wages. He said if they didn’t find the money to raise salaries, services would decline due to employee turnover.
Other members of the council spoke about how difficult it was to decide to increase the rate. They cited employee turnover of up to 75% in some departments, an increase in the cost of living, and inflation as reasons for the rate hike.
Green Cove Springs is now the largest municipality in Clay County.