Children’s Services Council weighs adjusting property tax rate

From the Tallahassee Democrat

Local retirees and property owners voiced their concerns about next year’s millage rate for the Children’s Services Council of Leon County.

During public comment at a meeting Thursday, Leon County residents cited rising costs as the reason for the council to keep the same millage rate or reduce it.

“You need to think about what’s going on in the lives of the people who have to pay this tax. If you’ve been to the gas station or the grocery store recently, you know that inflation is really eating up everybody’s income,” said Emily Fritz, who in 2020 led a campaign to urge voters to reject the tax.

Last summer, the council approved a 0.375% property tax rate, which generated a little over $7 million for the new organization’s work.

Leon County residents paid a property tax of $37.50 per $100,000 in taxable property value.

The county’s property values have increased about 9.5 percent, according to the Leon County Property Appraiser, and if the millage rate is kept the same, the council would generate $650,290 more in funds.

During the council’s discussion about the millage rate, treasurer Paul Mitchell urged the council to consider lowering the millage rate to bring in the same amount of money, accommodating rising property values.

Under such a plan, the millage rate would reduce from .375 to .343.

Council member Liza McFadden warned against lowering the rate and wanted to remain consistent with taxpayers.

“I think we want to be really careful of adjusting too much,” she said.

Leon County Schools Superintendent Rocky Hanna said he would like to maintain the same millage rate.

“Given the financial condition of our country and instability, I would be inclined leaving the rate as it is,” he said at the meeting. “We’re worried about how we’re perceived in the committee, and I just think now is the wrong time to move forward with an increase.”

The millage rate will officially be set at a future meeting.

A handful of residents also criticized the council during public comment and said its recent allocation of priority funding left some members in the community with a negative view of the council.

Specifically, the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce was given almost $100,000 to fund TalentHub, a job website and app for youth in the area.

“This first funding cycle, from a public standpoint, it didn’t look good,” said Whitfield Leland, a community organizer who is running for mayor.

“At the end of the day, the grant application said the funding was going to need to have a direct impact on kids and you had to have a program prior to, and [the chamber] didn’t have that.”

Cecka Green, the executive director of the council, countered the TalentHub program does exist, as does the website, and creating the app is expanding the existing program.

“This funding was approved by the council to close gaps this summer and expand programs that were existing,” she said. “The $1.6 million is expected to impact 13,000 children, youth and families. We are excited to see the impact it will have in this community,” Green said.

The council granted roughly $1.6 million to more than 50 programs. The organizations that received funding include one that promotes engineering education for students, another that provides nutrition to low-income and unemployed people and one that works on affordable housing assistance.

10 largest CSC summer allocations

  1. $180,038 — Young Engineers Tallahassee
  2. $150,000 — Mount Olive Affordable Housing and Community Development
  3. $139,004 — Leon County Schools’ 21st Century Community Learning
  4. $122,709 — Second Harvest of the Big Bend, Inc
  5. $101,737— Divine Healthcare Consulting, LLC dba SG Mental Health
  6. $92,594 — TeenPreneur Foundation, Inc.
  7. $92,010 — Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce
  8. $86,600  — Killearn Sunshine Academy
  9. $67,523 — Oasis Center for Women & Girls, Inc.
  10. $63,400 — Alternative Resources & Technical Services, Inc. ARTS

Contact Ana Goñi-Lessan at and follow her on Twitter @goni_lessan.