Town Council holds line on taxes; tentatively maintains 2.3518 millage

Community By David L. Snelling Friday, July 19, 2013

At the July , regular Miami Lakes Town Council meeting, lawmakers tentatively kept the existing 2.3518 rate for property taxes for the 2013-14 fiscal year, which is $2.3518 per $1,000 of assessed property value.

The proposed rate, which is the same as the two previous years, is projected to generate about $5.6 million in property tax revenue for the proposed budget estimated at $14.8 million.

The tax roll reflects a gross taxable value of $2.51 billion, which includes an increase of $12,900,000 in new construction and improvements.

As compared to the budgeted taxable value for the town’s previous year, the figures reflect an increase in taxable value of $41,382,000 from the previous year budgeted roll value.

At the current property tax rate of 2.3518 and calculated at the 95 percent used for budget purposes, the impact is approximately $295,000 in additional ad -valorem revenue for fiscal year 2013-14.

The preliminary general fund budget builds on the vision for the town’s future while remaining committed to providing core municipal government functions.

The main emphasis of the new proposed budget, according to Town Manager Alex Rey’s budget memo, will be to invest in beautifying the town, consistent with the vision developed during the branding effort.

The new spending plan funds the construction of an additional three entrance features, and sets aside funding to begin the implementation of the beautification master plan initiatives.   

During the two budget hearings scheduled for Thursday, September 12, and Tuesday, September 24, councilmembers can reduce the rate but can’t increase it.

Lawmakers could embrace the state’s rolled back rate of 2.245, which would provide the same ad-valorem tax revenue as levied during the prior year exclusive of new construction and improvements.

The proposed rate will fund other town priorities such as better police services, beautification, infrastructure improvements and economic development. 

For 2013-14, Miami Lakes has a beginning fund balance of nearly $4 million, in which 15 percent of the general fund operating budget, $2.2 million, is required to remain in reserve, and an additional $500,000 is placed in reserve for possible hurricane related problems.

During the current budget cycle, Miami Lakes accomplished most of its major goals, including funding for renovating Mary Collins Community Center; beginning of construction on a new youth center and new clubhouse for Miami Lakes Optimist Club; drainage and resurfacing improvements in Downtown near Main Street and Lake Patricia; transportation improvements with the start of construction of four lanes on N.W. 154 Street; a side walk replacement program, and the acquisition of two new buses; completed the new Government Center building; developed a brand for the town; and the town is in the final stages of completing a town-wide beautification plan.

Revenues in the past several years have steadily declined forcing the town to do more with less but ad valorem revenue estimates for 2014 show signs of improvement.

The town has significantly reduced expenses over the last seven years from a high of $21,634,500, to a projected fiscal year 2013 expense of $14,835,900.

For expenses, the largest increases are for police services with restrictions to employee contributions toward healthcare, insurance expenses, and retirement contributions, which lead to an overall increase of $325,400. The police budget is estimated at $6.8 million for the next fiscal year.

Other projected revenues include $4 million for intergovernmental revenue, $1.6 million in franchise fees, $2.5 million utility services and $1 million in building permits.