There are over 54 taxing authorities in Pinellas County that have the legal authority to tax citizens for services they provide. They include municipalities, Board of County Commissioners, School Board, community service districts and fire districts, to name a few, view the full list below. The taxing authorities must establish a tax rate (or millage) that allows them to collect the resources necessary to operate their organizations for the coming year.
The Property Appraiser's job is to serve the public by providing taxing authorities with fair and equitable property valuations for tax purposes. It is the taxing authorities who determine a tax rate according to how much money they need to fund their budgets. These different entities all have public hearings on budget requests for the forthcoming year. Proposed millage rates necessary to fund the budget are set at one of the budget hearings. The revenues generated are applied toward schools, fire and police protection, among other services.
Following are the Pinellas County Taxing Authorities:
Pinellas County Aggregate - This comprises three funds: General, Health Dept, and Emergency Medical Services (EMS). The General Fund operates all the county services such as law enforcement, social services, parks and environmental programs. Other tax rates controlled by the county include EMS, Health Services and fire districts in unincorporated areas. The aggregate also includes funding for the Sheriff, Clerk of the Circuit Court, Supervisor of Elections and Property Appraiser.
Municipalities - 24 Cities/Towns provide police, fire, sewer, garbage collection, street lighting, street repair, school crossing guards and crime watch programs. They operate libraries, municipal golf courses, recreation complexes, parks, cemeteries, wastewater treatment plants, senior citizens' and community centers. Enforces city housing and development codes.
Municipal Services Taxing Units (MSTU) - Provide various services to residents in the unincorporated areas of the county, such as: law enforcement (Sheriff's Office); issuing construction permits, enforcing local building codes and the state energy code, and provides on-site inspection during all phases of construction; reviewing applications for land-use plan changes, site plans and rezoning.
Fire Districts - 15 Districts provide fire protection for residents in the unincorporated areas.
School Board - Operates and maintains Pinellas County's public school system, including academic instruction, administration, and support services.
Suncoast Transit (PSTA) - Administers the countywide transit system, including more than 43 bus routes and Demand Response service for 21 municipalities and the unincorporated areas. It advocates mass transportation.
Juvenile Welfare Board - JWB plans, coordinates, advocates, funds and evaluates programs for children and families. The Board contracts for services with public and not-for-profit agencies and programs countywide. JWB also work collectively with partners to address complex issues to include childhood hunger, grade-level reading, and preventable child deaths focused in four strategic areas: School Readiness, School Success, the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, and Strengthening Community.
Library Services - Allows citizens the convenience of one library card for 14 member libraries and provides broad-based inter-library loan and information network.
East Lake Library Services - A separate taxing district for East Lake residents in place of the countywide library services tax. Provides funding for operation and maintenance of the East Lake public library facility.
Southwest Florida Water Management District - Is one of five regional districts charged by the state to preserve and protect Florida's water resources. Its mission is flood control, water supply, and water quality. SWFWMD covers all or part of 16 counties.
Pinellas Park Water Management District - Builds and maintains major storm water drainage systems.
Pinellas Planning Council - Provides countywide planning necessary for orderly growth, development and environmental protection of the county as a whole; coordinates all countywide planning and development with Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
Clearwater Downtown Development Board - Assists the City of Clearwater in the analysis, formulation and implementation of downtown development plans.
Feather Sound Community Services District - Funds street lighting; recreational and green space acquisition, development and maintenance.
Palm Harbor Community Services District - Provides funding for operation and maintenance of a public library facility, recreational facilities/programs, and related land acquisitions.
East Lake Recreation Services - A separate taxing district that provides funding for recreation services and facilities to residents within the district.