HALLANDALE BEACH - By Mayor Joy Cooper
HALLANDALE BEACH - As the scheduled August 11th and 12th budget workshops approach, I hope my recent articles have answered questions about our budget process and the 2015-2016 budget year. The budget is a combination of addressing infrastructure needs and annual service levels with multiple years of strategic planning. Over the past 5 years, we have incorporated surveys from our residents and business owners to ensure that the budget and our actions keep the collective vision of all stakeholders in sight. I have covered many of the revenues and expenses of each department and the cost of large brick and mortar projects.
The city is also making expenditures to plan for 6 years into the future to build our park system. These costs represent the collective will of the voters to improve our parks. That will must be honored. In preparation of issuing bonds and gearing up to build the parks, we are establishing a project management team and going out to bid for plans.
The debt service for the GO Bond will not be on this year’s tax bill, but we must fund certain steps in the planning before borrowing any money. In 2016-2017 there will be a debt service added and it will remain as a separate item on everyone’s tax bill until the bonds are retired. I was asked to clarify this by some of our readers that thought it would be on this year’s tax bill.
The budget is not just revenues and expenses, it is strategic planning and the establishment of business plans to implement the budget and goals. In addition to large construction and infrastructure improvements, the business plan includes operational needs. Each department is tasked annually to evaluate what their core services are and their semi core services are.
They are then tasked with addressing the desired output and the level of service to meet the established goal. The next step may be enhancements to increase outputs or to add services that will meet the strategic goals. Different departments address these needs through various methods. Some only require realigning of resources others need outside resources of personnel and equipment or in the majority of cases, this year the addition of technology for ongoing operational projects.
As everyone knows, technology is a critical tool. As the industry creates better software and platforms, we are upgrading and adding to our technology. These enhancements are ongoing and across the board, when it comes to finances and record keeping, here are some proposed budgeted projects.
The city clerk’s department is in charge of making sure all liens against properties are recorded, maintained and reported. This process will be enhanced this year through technology. By coordination with other departments, there will be a platform accessible with all of the details and information in one spot. This means individuals can do online lien searches saving time and money. The city clerk’s office also continues to provide improvements to public record access, agenda information and minutes.
IT has been rolling out the ERP, Enterprise Resource Plan. My Hallandale Beach APP has been implemented and is being utilized externally by our residents and internally by staff to report and track citizen concerns. This is all part of a goal for true access, transparency and operational excellence. The OpenGov software tool to provide full interactive access to all aspects of our budget is partially complete with a full launch scheduled in the first quarter of 2016 based on this year’s budget approval.
In addition to OpenGov, staff will be implementing ClearPoint which is an internal check list for the whole budget system, including strategic plan and departmental business plans. It will give a scorecard report on department performance. Staff is also integrating land management into the GIS system as part of Development Services operational goals. GIS can be integrated for use with DPW and other areas of the city. IT is also enhancing remote access and database services to create an intranet that is accessible throughout all of the cities facilities.
The Human Service Department is also migrating to a database management system platform that will maintain all social service records. These include the services for those most needy in our city; seniors, families and our after-school tutoring programs. Their tracking systems will be utilized to manage all of our cases. Staff will have on line data for planning and outcomes. It will be a great resource to assist when we are referring clients to other agencies and vice a versa. All their information will be available. This will save time and get much needed help to our clients.
I started these budget articles with the police and fire departments. IT is working directly with the police department to replace and upgrade patrol laptops. This will increase the uptime for access and decrease service repairs and failures.
In two weeks your commission will be evaluating the proposed budget at the workshops on the 11th and 12th. These articles are only a snapshot of 100 of pages of budget documentation that have been developed over months. I encourage all of our readers to take time and visit our web-site at: www.cohb.org to view the entire budget. We will be adopting a recommended budget that will be heard at two public hearings. The first will take place on September 15th and the second on September 25th.
In closing, the 2016 Budget is predicated on not using any reserves and maintaining the same tax rate as last year’s. The proposed tax bill you will receive includes all taxing agencies. Our portion includes the city, Fire Fee and the safe neighborhood taxing districts. When taxpayers get their tentative bill this year it will show a proposed rate of 5.3833, this is a 3% increase. The tentative rate was set higher to make sure we have flexibility to budget. The tax rate will be set upon conclusion of our workshop but not finalized until the last public hearing. The Fire Fee proposed is an increase from 145 to 198. Once again this is not the final rate it must be adopted at first public hearing. All other fees are proposed to remain the same.
As I wrote in my first budge article. It is budget time around our cities. Every city is in the process of setting their tentative millage rates and fees for the upcoming year. It is not a surprise that the anti-tax rhetoric has already begun. I encourage every taxpayer to understand how cities work. That is why I take the time to write this weekly column.
Beware of elected officials that suggest cities are flush with money now that the economy has picked up and values are up. You will hear “I cannot not vote for this budget.” “It’s too big.” “It is not within our means.” Remember just like in businesses around the country costs are rarely fixed. Ask those hiding behind the rhetoric what services they will cut? What infrastructure needs will be kicked down the road in there tax cuts? What is their plan? Is their plan founded on fiscally sound principals? Are they using facts and actual numbers?
Please get involved and attend your city’s budget meeting and hearings. If you cannot, feel free to reach out to me with our questions, concerns and ideas anytime at: (954) 632-5700. Or e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
As always, feel free to contact me anytime with your questions, concerns and ideas for our community anytime by cell/text at: (954) 632-5700 Or on my office number at: (954) 457-1318. You can also e-mail me at: Joy@mayorjoycooper.com or JCooper@cohb.org.