July 17, 2019

ISLAMORADA — Overall real-estate property value in Islamorada gained $32.9 million over the past fiscal year, putting the new value at more than $3.714 billion.

That new figure from the Monroe County Property Appraiser’s Office comes into play July 18 when the Islamorada Village Council will decide where to set its maximum property tax rate for fiscal year 2019-20.

Village staff will recommend a ceiling of 3.2 mills — $320 per $100,000 of taxable assessed property value — for purposes of the state’s mandatory Truth in Millage (TRIM) notices.

“The final adopted rate would likely be lower” than 3.2 mills when the actual millage is set at September budget hearings, Village Manager and Finance Director Maria Bassett wrote in a briefing report.

“A major consideration, however, is the repayment of $2 million due in November 2019 on the Hurricane Irma line of credit,” they noted of loans taken out to cover immediate expenses from the storm not yet reimbursed by the federal government.

The Islamorada property tax rate for the current fiscal year is 3.024 mills, or about $907 for a home with a taxable assessed value of $300,000. At 3.2 mills, that would increase the village’s tax by $53 on the same $300,000 property.

With higher property valuation rates, the rollback rate — taxes needed to raise the same municipal funding as in the current year — is 2.83 mills. Property owners also pay separate taxes for the county, school district and special districts.

In other items at the 5:30 p.m. Thursday meeting at the Founders Park Community Center:

• A proposal to build affordable housing on a vacant one-acre parcel behind Sunset Inn at mile marker 82.2 has been reduced from 41 units in a single building to a total of 24 units in four buildings.

Nearby residents of the Sunset Ventures LLC project packed the council meeting room in late May to object to the number of units and the effect on traffic. Developers asked for a postponement until July 18 to negotiate with the neighbors.

“The applicant has submitted documentation addressing the agreed-upon revisions with the objecting homeowners,” Islamorada staff planners report.

Now Sunset Ventures is seeking a Minor Conditional Use approval to build on the vacant site, part of a 2.75-acre site that also includes the 30-unit Sunset Inn motel and other commercial space.

Staff planners recommend approval of the permit.

• Owners of Cheeca Lodge & Spa at mile marker 81.8 will seek a Major Conditional Use permit to build two new affordable housing units on the property, and add 11,257 square feet of non-residential commercial space. A background report was pending earlier this week.

• Executives of the Freebee transport service within Islamorada will seek a new two-year contract with the village, ranging from $230,096 to $460,391 annually, depending on how many hours the village will approve.

Freebee proposes to add two new buses capable of operating from Plantation Key to Lower Matecumbe, along with a five-passenger vehicle limited to Upper Matecumbe Key.

Islamorada has subsidized the service at about $100,000 so far to reduce U.S. 1 traffic while providing free rides for residents and visitors.