Budget FAQ

Listed below are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that may be of interest. If you have a question that is not answered here, please contact us at ContactNorthPort@CityofNorthPort.com

Where can I get a copy of the City of North Port budget?

Copies of the budget books can be viewed in the City Clerk’s Office and on the Annual Budgets page.

What revenue sources are used to finance the CIP?

Funding sources for the CIP include one cent sales tax proceeds, developers’ contributions, escheated lots proceeds, impact fees, bond proceeds, special assessments and district funds.

What is a CIP?

The CIP or Capital Improvement Program is a 5-year financial plan matching the City's projected financial resources dedicated to capital spending with the City's highest priority capital needs.

What is the difference between the operating budget and the capital budget?

The operating budget covers the expenditures of the City’s ongoing day-to-day operations such as personnel costs, supplies and various professional services. The capital budget is an appropriation of funds for the construction or acquisition of assets such as buildings, land, infrastructure, machinery and equipment.

What is the General Fund and what services does it provide?

The General Fund is the primary operating fund of the City of North Port and is used to account for all financial resources except those required to be accounted for in another fund. Services that are paid for by the General Fund include police protection, emergency medical services, social services, parks and recreation, property standards, property maintenance and general administration.

What is Non Ad Valorem tax?

A non-ad valorem tax is not tied to the value of personal or real property. Non ad valorem taxes are charges for specific benefits/services.

What is Save Our Homes?

"Save Our Homes" is an amendment to the Florida Constitution that the voters passed in November of 1992. A taxpayer automatically receives the Save Our Homes protection starting the year after first obtaining a Homestead Exemption. This law limits the increase in assessed value for properties receiving the Homestead Exemption to no more than 3% or the increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI), no matter how much larger the increase in market value would otherwise be.

What is a TRIM Notice?

In 1980, the Florida Legislature passed the “Truth In Millage” (TRIM) law. The law is designed to inform you of your rights as a taxpayer. The Property Appraiser’s office mails TRIM notices to every property owner of record each year in mid-August. To protect your rights as a taxpayer, the TRIM Notice tells you:

  1. the proposed market value and assessed value of your property this year as compared to last year
  2. the tax saving exemptions, if any, on your property this year as compared to last year
  3. the tax amounts and special fees proposed by each of your various taxing authorities (School Board, County Commission, City Commission, etc.)
  4. a comparison of the proposed new taxes versus last year's taxes, and
  5. the locations and dates of the public hearings where you can voice your views on the proposed rates.

Why did my market value decrease and my assessed value increase?

The Market Value of your property as of January 1st represents the market conditions at that time. Since market conditions are ever changing, it is possible that from one year to the next, values could be greater or less than the previous year. For properties that have had an uninterrupted Homestead Exemption for more than a year, the Assessed Value increases annually by 3% or by the percent change in the Consumer Price Index, whichever is less. For 2010 the CPI increased by 2.7%. Regardless of what change takes place, the Assessed Value will never exceed the property’s Market Value.

What if I disagree with the Property Appraiser’s market value?

If you believe that your assessment does not represent the fair market value of the property, contact the Property Appraiser’s office to discuss your property’s value with one of the appraisers. If you are unable to resolve the matter, you may file a petition for a hearing before the Value Adjustment Board. This Board is created by State Law and appoints Special Magistrates who are qualified appraisers or attorneys, independent of the Property Appraiser’s Office, to conduct valuation hearings. The Special Magistrates are appointed only to determine whether the appraised value of the property is fair market value as of January 1st. Petitions must be received (not merely postmarked) before the deadline date that appears on the TRIM Notice.

What is market (just) value?

The Supreme Court of Florida has declared “just value” to be legally synonymous to “full cash value” and “fair market value.” The fair market value of your property is the approximate amount for which it would sell on the open market.

What is assessed value?

A value established by the Sarasota County Property Appraiser for all real or personal property for use as a basis for levying property taxes.

When and how often are properties assessed?

Per Section 192.042, Florida Statute, all property in the state is reassessed every year. Also, assessments in Florida are done a year in arrears with January 1 being the statutory date for determining the annual assessment (i.e., what the property was worth as of 1/1/11). This means your 2011 assessment -- the amount used for your November 2011 tax bill -- is based on the qualified sales in your neighborhood (excluding non-arm's length transactions, foreclosures, etc.) between January 2, 2010 and January 1, 2011. Any change in value after January 1, 2011, will be reflected in your 2012 assessment.

What are the responsibilities of the Property Appraiser’s office?

The Property Appraiser’s office is responsible for properly assessing all parcels of real and taxable personal property in Sarasota County on the tax rolls every year. They also take applications for various tax-saving exemptions and ensure everyone receives all the exemptions to which he or she is entitled.

The Property Appraiser does not set your tax rates. The tax rates are set by the various “taxing authorities” (City Commission, School Board, County Commission, Water Management District, Hospital District, etc.) in whose jurisdiction your property lies. Likewise, the Property Appraiser’s office does not collect taxes – your payments are sent directly to the Sarasota County Tax Collector.

What is rollback rate?

The millage rate which, when multiplied times the tax roll, exclusive of new construction added to that tax roll, would yield the same amount of revenue for the taxing authority as was yielded by the millage rate levied in the previous year.

What is millage?

1/1000 of one dollar; used in computing taxes by multiplying the rate times taxable value divided by 1,000. Example: millage rate of $3.34 per thousand; taxable value of $100,000 = ($100,000/1,000) x $3.34 = $334.

What is Ad Valorem tax?

A tax computed from the assessed valuation (net of any exemptions) of land and improvements on real property. This is commonly referred to as “property tax.”

What is fund balance?

Fund balance is the excess of fund assets over liabilities. These unspent funds can be included as revenue in the following year's budget. A negative fund balance is sometimes referred to as a deficit.

What are “funds” and why does the City have them?

The City of North Port employs a unique system of accounting and financial reporting that integrates what is known as fund accounting. Fund accounting is simply a method of segregating resources into categories, (i.e. funds) to identify both the source of funds and the use of funds.

Within this system, a fund is a separate, self-balancing set of accounts segregated for specific purposes in accordance with laws and regulations or special restrictions and limitations. It is specifically designed to help the City demonstrate legal compliance and fiscal accountability.

Where does the City’s revenue come from?

The City of North Port’s revenue comes from a variety of sources, including taxes, licenses and permits, intergovernmental revenues, charges for services, and impact fees.

How is an adopted budget changed?

There are two methods to make changes to the adopted budget during the fiscal year:

  1. Transfers of appropriated monies between departments and/or functions within an individual fund that do NOT increase total expenditures may be made with City Manager authorization, excluding the authorization of additional regular positions and capital improvements.
  2. Budget amendments that increase total expenditures of a fund or would transfer money between funds would be adopted by a Commission approved ordinance which requires two public hearings.

How does the City officially adopt the budget?

The final millage rate and the final budgets, including a non-district, three districts, and capital improvement budget, are adopted by Commission approved ordinances (via two public hearings in September).

How do I get involved or learn about the budget before it is adopted?

At any time of the year, citizens can view the City’s budget online or at the City Clerk’s office in City Hall. The public is a critical part of the City’s budget process and is encouraged to attend meetings when the budget is discussed.

The City Commission has several special budget workshops beginning in June that citizens can attend and participate in. If unable to attend, citizens can watch the budget workshops live or on the archived videos located on the City’s website. The public is also invited to write, call, e-mail and visit with the City Commissioners during the fiscal year to discuss the budget.

How is the budget developed prior to adoption?

  1. The City Commission establishes budget priorities and goals based on the community’s needs and desires.
  2. Revenues are estimated to determine the approximate amount of financial resources that will be available to fund City operations.
  3. Expenditure requests and forecasts are prepared by the various City departments and submitted to the City Manager for review.
  4. The City Manager submits a recommended budget that reflects the Commission’s established priorities and goals.
  5. The City Commission seeks additional public input and discusses the City Manager’s Recommended Budget. Changes are proposed and approved at the budget workshops.
  6. Changes are made according to the City Commission’s recommendations and the Commission Proposed Budget is prepared for presentation at the public hearings in September.

What is budget appropriation?

The legal authorization granted by a legislative body to make expenditures and to incur obligations for specific purposes. It is the act of appropriation that funds the budget.

What is a Fiscal Year (FY) and when does it begin and end?

A fiscal year is a twelve-month period designated as the operating year for accounting and budgeting purposes in an organization. Florida Statute, Section 166.241 establishes municipality fiscal years, and the City of North Port’s fiscal year is October 1 to September 30.

What is a budget?

A budget is a financial plan for a specified period of time (fiscal year) that matches anticipated revenues with proposed expenditures. The budget serves as the primary tool in allocating financial resources to programs and services.