Property taxes could be on the rise for Palm Beach County residents, following sheriff's budget prop

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Property owners in Palm Beach County could notice an increase on their property tax bill, should county leaders accept the sheriff's budget increase proposal.

Sheriff Ric Bradshaw has requested an extra $38 million dollars for his 2014 budget, on top of his near half-billion dollar budget.

Bradshaw said the budget increase is necessary to maintain operations as they are.

"We're not asking for pie in the sky. We're asking for what's reasonable and necessary to do this job."

The budget increase would allow the department to update equipment, replace old cruisers, provide for inmates, amongst other upgrades.

"The options are this: Don't drive cars, have radios that you can't talk on, and have computers that don't work. That's not an option," explained Bradshaw.

It would also allow for a 2% raise for all sheriff's department employees for the first time in nearly 5 years.

"I understand that the county employees are going to get a raise, the state employees are going to get a raise. How do you look at your employees and say you're getting nothing?" said Bradshaw.

County funds are tight, according to county administrator Robert Weisman. He says the county could only raise property taxes to increase revenue, or find other areas to cut if the budget is approved.

For now, Weisman says nothing is for certain.

Carol Wright with the Palm Beach County Property Appraiser's office says property appraiser Gary Nikolits predicts property values could go up about 3% next year. That would produce about $18 million in extra revenue without raising tax rates.

Property owner Joan Gaicomelli says she pays more than $3,000 a year on two properties she owns in West Palm Beach. Raising property taxes concerns her, but she says her safety is worth the price. "That's a concern, but I mean the sheriff's department, of course you want to have the security."

Officials with the County Administrators Office say the county will not know until July what the tax rate would be, or if it would need to raise to accommodate budget proposals in various county departments.

They say there will be public forums to hear opposition and support in June.
 

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