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Palm Beach County commissioners Monday approved a $3.1 billion spending plan for next year. But not without a final plea to cut the budget from the newly- formed group Citizens for a Sound Economy. Commissioners listened to the group during the final budget hearing, but in the end approved the 2004 budget, which allows the county to bring in nearly $41 million in new property tax revenue. While the county will bring in millions more next year, the basic property tax rate of $4.50 per $1,000 of taxable value won’t change. The increase in property bills will be because of increased property values. The owner of a home assessed at $125,000 with a $25,000 homestead exemption would pay $450, assuming the value of the home remained the same. Also included in the county’s $3.1 billion spending plan is $270 million for the sheriff’s office – a point of debate between the commission and the sheriff for months.

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