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Gainesville holds the line on GRU rates, adopts property tax rate above the rolled-back rate

At a special budget meeting on September 24, the Gainesville City Commission adopted their final budget items.

A schedule of fees for water and wastewater, including increases in various charges related to the water and waterwater system but keeping usage rates the same as last year, passed unanimously.

GRU’s proposed budget, which keeps rates the same as last year, passed 6-1, with Commissioner Adrian Hayes-Santos in dissent. He later explained that his vote had something to do with revenue, but the audio dropped out, so his full statement could not be heard.

The commission adopted a property tax millage of 5.2974, which is a 5.45% increase over the rolled-back rate of 5.0237. The rolled-back rate is the rate that would collect the same revenue as the previous year after property value increases are taken into account.

During public comment, Nathan Skop and Debbie Martinez criticized the city for not adopting the rolled-back rate, as the County did this year (the County actually adopted a rate slightly lower than the rolled-back rate). In response, Mayor Lauren Poe said it was a fair question and that they were not reducing rates because “we are investing in our community. The county commission defunded GRACE Marketplace to the tune of a half of a million dollars; the city commission picked that up.” His audio then dropped out; when he came back, he continued, “All of these things are investments in our community and are an important part of what we are trying to do during the midst of this COVID crisis… this is certainly nothing against the County, but the City has taken the position that some of these services that would have otherwise been severely harmed or gone away in the absence of that funding, we have stepped in to pick it up… in order to serve our residents, our neighbors, we have decided that investing in those programs and those services is important, and that’s why we have not raised the millage rate, but have kept it right where it was so that we could fund those programs.”

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The millage rate passed unanimously, and the General Government budget also passed unanimously.

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