By Bryan Boggiano
At Monday’s workshop, the city commission deliberated over the Fiscal Year 2024 budget, primarily focusing on the millage rate, diverse assessments, and future projects. The assembly precedes the city commission’s finalization of the budget for the forthcoming year.
The meeting comes as the city commission works to finalize the budget for the upcoming year.
At the heart of their discussion, commissioners grappled with the proposed millage rate. Currently, the anticipated rate stands at 6.4463—a substantial 10.38% jump from the earlier 5.8399.
Should the commission opt for this rolled-back rate over the present one, an estimated $3 million reduction in the city’s general fund would ensue. Such a move could influence the city’s programming, staff allocation, and crucial improvement projects, among other areas.
Even a minimal 0.1 cutback from the present millage rate would translate to $546,000 less from taxpayers benefiting the city. A few commissioners also highlighted the potential risk of future rate spikes in Fiscal Year 2025 if they reduced the rate this year.
Vice Mayor Sandy Welch opined that adopting the rolled-back rate might offer taxpayers relief, especially if a significant $60 million bond for a potential public safety complex gains approval.
While Commissioner Jacqueline Railey vouched for retaining the existing millage rate, she did propose postponing certain capital projects.
“There’s a want, there’s a need, and there’s a wish list… It’s giving us something instead of cutting the millage rate,” she said.
Despite Railey and Welch’s support for the public safety complex, Commissioner John Brodie voiced his opposition. Meanwhile, Mayor Joshua Rydell and Commissioner Jeffrey Wasserman were amenable to tax cuts but distanced themselves from the hefty $60 million bond, a focal point in the millage rate debate.
Commissioner Wasserman reflected on the broader community: “If we’re gonna sit here and consider this, we have to think about the person who is living paycheck to paycheck.”
The consensus leaned toward maintaining the current millage rate, with the lion’s share of commissioners disapproving of the proposed bond.
Another crucial discussion ensued around potential modifications to the solid waste assessment, primarily dictated by the city’s trash disposal choices.
Since July 1, city waste has been routed to a transfer station close to Waste Management’s Monarch Hill Landfill in Pompano Beach. Subsequently, the trash is disposed of at a landfill north of Lake Okeechobee.
City officials mulled over redirecting this waste to Fort Lauderdale’s Wheelabrator Waste-to-Energy Facility. Sticking to the current landfill strategy would raise costs for an average single-family home to $342.89, a modest increase from $329.70. Conversely, adopting the waste-to-energy methodology would escalate costs to $380.40.
While these figures are dynamic, they could notably influence multifamily homes, mobile homes, and commercial entities. Many commissioners endorsed the waste-to-energy solution, spotlighting its superior environmental footprint and emphasizing the hazards of landfill pollution and methane release.
Reflecting this sentiment, Welch commented, “We promised our residents that we would be as sustainable and renewable as possible.”
Commissioner Brodie echoed these environmental concerns: “Sometimes doing the right thing costs.”
The city commission’s first budget hearing is slated for Sept. 14 at 6 p.m., followed by another on Sept. 28 at the same time.
- A University of Florida journalism graduate, Bryan plans to pursue geosciences at Florida International University for his master's. He has a strong interest in weather, entertainment, and journalism.
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