Coral Springs’ tax rate will rise in 2016, the second such increase in three years.
The City Commission unanimously approved staff’s recommendation to increase the millage rate to 4.7982, an increase of 5 percent from the existing rate of 4.5697 and a 10-percent increase over the roll-back rate. The city’s debt service millage rate is going up as well, from $0.2038 to $0.2933; the increase is due to the voters approving a $12.45 million public safety bond.
Maintaining the current millage rate of 4.5697 mills would have resulted in the city raising additional tax revenue of $1.7 million, but the city would still have had to deal with a $800,000 gap in its operating budget. By increasing the tax rate to 4.7982, the city will get $3.6 million in additional revenue; a big chunk of the money will be used to close the $800,000 gap and fund priority capital projects. The tax increase will help the city borrow $12 million for crucial capital infrastructure improvements over the next three years.
With property values increasing 6.2 percent in the city, the tax hike will result in a total increase of $87 for the average single-family homeowner. The increase in ad valorem taxes alone is $45.
The solid-waste assessment for single-family homes will increase by $8.91, from $225.84 to $234.75. There is no increase in the commercial solid-waste fee. The fire-assessment fee for single-family homes will rise by $5.64, from $141.36 to $147, but there is no change in the fees for multi-family units or commercial establishments. Water and sewer rates will rise by 3.5 percent. User fees will increase by 1.1 percent.
Among the other major proposals are the creation of a special dependent district for Corporate Park and a salary increase of four percent for all city employees. The capital projects that will be taken up this year are a new 50-meter pool at the aquatic center ($1.5 million), artificial turf at Cypress Park ($850,000), Center for the Arts roof replacement ($500,000) and body cameras for police officers ($165,000.)
Maintaining the millage rate would have resulted in the city having to cut existing services. “In difficult times, we have to look at the broader interests of the community,” said City Manager Erdal Donmez. “We have to be realistic; our millage rate is very, very low. To turn back 180 degrees and eliminate or diminish some of the existing programs is not a good idea for the community.”
City officials agreed.
“As a community, we are at a fork in the road,” said Vice Mayor Larry Vignola. “We can go ahead and try to be a community of excellence or we can go down another route. Do we want to be the city of Detroit? Is that the route we want to go? Or do we want to be responsible and take our community to the next level?”
“I don’t think anybody revels in the idea of raising taxes; it is not something I am a fan of,” said Commissioner Dan Daley. “But there is a certain point where if you want to maintain the services that you offer, you have to pay for the services. I want to make sure that we continue moving forward.”
Commissioner Lou Cimaglia said, “To get our city back to where we would love to have it, and to spend $90 for a household for it, that is a bargain. I am totally for it.”
“The people that I spoke to; they want it,” said Commissioner Joy Carter. “They want their toilets to flush. They want EMS and the police to show up when they call, just to know that they can feel safe living here.”
The city last raised the millage rate in 2013, by 4 percent. Even with the increase in the tax rate, the city has the second-lowest millage rate among big cities in the county, behind Fort Lauderdale.
There will be two meetings, so residents can voice their opinion on the budget, on Sept. 11 and 24. The City Commission cannot increase the tax rate beyond 4.7982 but can lower it when it formally adopts the budget on Sept. 24.
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