HALLANDALE BEACH - By Mayor Joy Cooper - Making the right decision when it comes to taxpayer money
Over the last few weeks I have written about our budget. I did forget to mention in those articles that we are still one are on the top 10 cities with the lowest millage rate in Broward, the 6th lowest for utility rates. We understand that we are entrusted with resident’s tax dollars to make sure we pay our bills, address our citizens needs and concerns and ensure we maintain and replace aging infrastructure. We continue to do our jobs.
I often get asked what about all the new construction and when will we be able to reduce the millage. We currently have over 12 proposed developments with site plan approval. This is only the first phase of getting buildings into the ground. Developers need to then acquire financing, permits and then proceed with the bricks and mortar. Every devolvement is different and the time frame will vary.
This year we have seen an 11% overall increase in our tax base. This increase is from true value not construction. While the city is looking forward to the benefits of construction we cannot depend on new construction to pay for current costs. When the buildings come on line and are placed on the tax rolls we will then see the benefits.
We are ensuring that future growth does pay for itself. We have always collected impact fees and negotiated other items within our development agreements to address the impacts to our other city assets. We currently are performing a full impact rate evaluation. This combined with our Basis of Design Report and mobility study will fine turn the numbers including a public safety impact fee.
I have covered many of the cost drivers in prior articles and some of the major infrastructure construction projects. We are also continuing to invest in new technology systems for the city. This year we went on line with the first phase of the new online permitting system. Later in the year staff will be rolling out the full system that will provide the ability to submit all plan documents online.
Our IT is now an integral part of our operations. The new platform combined with programs has provided increased access, a transparent financial portal and increased efficiencies. We will all see a larger shift to a fully integrated streamlined process.
This year’s budget includes many of our ongoing programs that add to the quality of life for our children and most vulnerable seniors. I sometimes have a resident approach me to say “well I do not need these service, so why should I pay for them”. Obviously there are many needy residents in our city. 25% of our population live on an annual salary of 25,000 or less. 15 % under 15,000. These programs like PAL provide a safe place for many latch key kids who would otherwise be on the street. Our senior programs give us a chance to work with our seniors so they can age in place.
This past weekend we opened the brand new Austin Hepburn Center located at OB Johnson Park. This facility if open for everyone. There is a state-of-the-art computer lab. 7 classrooms for after school and continuing education, a large work out gym with state-of-the-art equipment. There is our famous senior program that now has a larger area with a brand new kitchen. We also have a free Teen Center with a game center lounge and recording studio. All this was possible because of our CRA.
Those that continue to complain or worse attack our CRA do not understand all the great work we are doing to make sure our city is whole for everyone. That every resident has access to great parks and programs. Most importantly our children have a level playing field for education and success.
Next Wednesday September 28th at 5:30 PM I will be hosting a special Realtors and Investor Forum to share information on our great programs and opportunities that we have here in the city. There will be a brief budget overview, development overview and CRA program review. Everyone is welcomed to attend at the Cultural Center located in our Municipal Complex at SE 3rd and South Federal.
As always, please feel free to contact me any time with your questions/concerns and ideas on how to make our city a better place at my office: (954) 457-1318. On my cell/text at: (954) 632-5700. Or visit my web-site at: www.mayorjoycooper.com.