Town approves keeping tax rate same to generate $6.6M in new budget

Thursday, September 14, 2017 0 Comments

During its first budget hearing on September 5, the Town of Miami Lakes tentatively approved to keep the same rate for property taxes and adopted a new budget for fiscal year 2017-2018.
The tax rate of 2.335 is $2.33 for every $1,000 taxable value but residents might pay a slight tax hike since their property values have increased.

The rate generates about $6.6 million in ad valorem taxes, and with other revenues, carryover funds and reserves, Miami Lakes was able to build a healthy budget which is estimated at $26 million.

Police services constitute 51 percent of the budget, which is estimated at $8.4 million, an increase of $555,298 due to an increase in health insurance and adding two police officers to the detached unit.

The town also budgeted $500,000 for litigation reserves as it continues to fight the lawsuit of former mayor Michael Pizzi over his attorneys’ fees from his criminal case.  

During a budget workshop in August, town staff proposed borrowing up to $1 million to help complete the master plan for Miami Lakes Optimist Park.

But council members were reluctant to take out a loan, and staff decided to search for the money in the budget or apply for grants for the park’s master plan, which will cost an estimated $4 million.

Residents have been growing equally frustrated over the conditions of the park, as the Town is using the pay-as-you-go method. Residents are using the parks and recreation facilities in Weston, Doral and Pembroke Pines.

The master plan for Miami Lakes Optimist Park would mirror the state-of-the art recreational facilities in Doral and Weston, hoping to win back town residents who have been waiting years for a new park.

At the park, the baseball fields, batting cages, and other amenities are decrepit, and residents want the gymnasium the town promised in 2007. 

The park improvements would also include an airnasium; new tennis and basketball courts; a concession and bathroom facility; field and fencing reconfiguration; a walking trail; and additional parking spaces.    

The Town budgeted a total of $1.4 million for improvements to MLO park, which includes the Optimist clubhouse; the Mary Collins Community Center; redeveloping a vacant parcel at Royal Oaks Park; and the design of the Par 3 golf course. 

As part of the budget, the town is also offering to reduce traffic congestion by spending $125,000 for a traffic study, which would encourage drivers to park their cars near the Par 3 golf course and ride a bus to connect them to Metrorail, as part of partnership with Miami-Dade.

The town’s budget for next year also includes sidewalk replacement ($170,000); street lighting utilities and repairs ($332,000); N.W. 67 Avenue widening project ($489,000); and $150,000 for the Par 3 golf course design.

Some of the significant budget changes compared to the FY 2016-17 budget excluding $1.4 million in carryover funds for litigation fees and reserves ($624,000); beautification projects and park improvements ($362,300); employee retention and training ($158,300); miscellaneous projects ($134,000) and reserves ($121,400), the proposed expense budget reflects an increase of about $1,055 million from last year which includes $555,298 for operating expenses (police), and $500,000 fee for litigation reserves.

For transportation improvements, Miami Lakes has budgeted $4.2 million for the N.W. 59 Avenue extension that includes the Public Works Storage Yard and Boat Yard ($775,000); roadway and drainage improvements in Lake Sarah ($590,960); the construction of Safe Routes to School ($580,000); milling and resurfacing of Miami Lakeway between N.W. 67 Avenue and Lake Candlewood Court ($193,252); on-road bike path striping at N.W. 89 Avenue near Barbara Goleman High School ($50,000); and traffic calming devices ($25,000).

The Town’s Mobility Fee would fund the design of the underpass bridges at N.W. 146 Street and the Palmetto, and N.W. 160th Street and the Palmetto (330,000).

The Palmetto Expressway and NW 67 Avenue Widening Project is funded by Town Center Developer’s Contribution in lieu of road impact fees ($408,069).

The Town’s second and final budget hearing has been scheduled for 6 p.m., Wednesday, September 20, at Miami Lakes Town Hall, 6601 Main Street.

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