In a prelude to the town’s budget hearings, Miami Lakes has scheduled a budget workshop for 6 p.m., Thursday, September 5, at Miami Lakes Government Center, 6601 Main Street. Town Manager Alex Rey, the mayor and councilmembers will discuss and suggest changes to the proposed $15.3 million spending plan for the 2013-2014 fiscal year to prepare for the two budget hearings, set for Thursday, September 12, and Tuesday, September 24, at 5:30 p.m. In July, lawmakers tentatively kept the existing 2.3518 rate for property taxes for the third consecutive year, which is $2.3518 per $1,000 of assessed property value.
The rate is projected to generate about $5.6 in property tax revenue for the proposed budget. During the two budget hearings, councilmembers can reduce the rate but can’t increase it. Rey made some significant budget changes from his proposed budget that was presented to the council in July.
For electrical franchise fees, the revenue derived from FPL that was received in August was $1.5 million, or $125,000 lower than the budgeted amount, offset by the higher than budget receipts for ad-valorem delinquent account payments from $40,000 to $210,000, an increase of $170,000. As of result, the town also lowered the expected receipts for next year, however, Rey increased Miami Lakes estimated collections for ad-valorem delinquent accounts to $125,000.
Miami Lakes will have to spend an estimated $52,000 for the October 1 special election to pick a new mayor and councilmember. Rey has suggested reducing the costs for branding and strategic planning from $45,000 to $30,000 and postpone funding for some initiatives until the 2014-2015 fiscal year to offset the election costs. For merit and cost of living increases, Rey has recommended that $50,000 to be carried over for next year be allocated for salary increases for town staff which have not received a raise in four years.
In addition, Miami Lakes has budgeted $900,000 for field renovations as part of the master plan for Miami Lakes Optimist Park, which includes a transfer from the general fund in 2015-16 and 2016-17. For town wide beautification initiatives, the proposed budget includes about $300,000 for entry features and an intersection beautification program, and $2 million over two years ($1 million for next year) for road resurfacing and drainage improvements in the Lake Martha and Lake Sarah neighborhoods.
For a public works storage yard, the proposed spending plan includes the funding for a site for storage, pending the transfer of the property from FDOT at N.W. 154 Street and 92 Avenue ($308,000). For school crossing guards, the town’s police budget includes funding in the amount of $98,000 for the school crossing guard program and Rey is suggesting to remove the cost from the county contract and allow Miami Lakes to start its own program which includes recruiting town residents for the job.
For the fund balance, the proposed spending plan doesn’t include any transfer for operating or capital expenses. It will maintain the available unprogrammed fund balance at about $4 million. Regarding a carry over from the current fiscal year of $192,000, which is less than one percent of the town’s budget, and given that Miami Lakes still needs to close the current fiscal year, Rey does not recommend reprogramming the carry-over funds at this point.
The town has a beginning fund balance of $3.9 million, in which 15 percent ($2.2 million) is required to remain in reserve; and an additional $500,000 is in reserve for possible hurricane related disallowance for the next fiscal year. 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 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 current budget cycle, Miami Lakes accomplished most of its major goals, including funding for renovating Mary Collins Community Center, 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 for four lanes on N.W. 154 Street, a side walk replacement program, 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.
The police budget is estimated at $6.8 million for the next fiscal year. The largest increase in 2013-2014 expenses are related to the police budget as a result of increased insurance expenses and retirement contributions amounting to $325,400 more in the next fiscal year.