Broward County

Hallandale Beach homeowners will pay a little more in property tax

After commissioners made a few cuts to special projects and dipped into the city’s reserves, Hallandale Beach residents will likely see the same tax rate as last year, officials decided this week.

While the commission proposed to keep the tax rate at $5.6833 per $1,000 of assessed property value, taxpayers can still expect to pay slightly more because of rising property values.

Over a two-day workshop, commissioners agreed they did not want to raise taxes, but with rising costs, needed to draw on their rainy-day fund. The reserve account is now about $22 million, from which the city plans on pulling $3.9 million.

“We are still well above what is recommended,” Mayor Joy Cooper said of the city’s reserves.

“I am very comfortable with this budget. In addition to healthy reserves, we are addressing the needs of our residents,” she said.

Commissioner Alexander Lewy said even with using some of the reserves the city is still in good financial shape.

“We continue to live within our means,” he said.

The overall budget is $93.1 million, $668,000 less than the current fiscal year. The general fund, which pays for the day-to-day operations of the city, is $56.7 million, up $1.7 million from this year.

The added costs stem from a new park coming online, additional maintenance and a few new positions, said City Manager Renee C. Miller.

Miller, who gave the commission the option to raise taxes slightly, said that while the city’s reserves are still healthy, the city still needs to plan for the future.

“It is not sustainable to continue to use reserves at this level,” she said.

But commissioners held firm on keeping the tax rate level. Instead, they cut several special projects, including money for training and beach renourishment, in order to save about $600,000.

“I am definitely not in favor of raising taxes,” said Commissioner Michele Lazarow.

Even without raising taxes the city will still see more in property tax revenue.

Rising property values — Hallandale Beach’s values increased 6.93 percent — will help bring $1.4 million in added revenue into the city based on keeping the rate at $5.6833.

For a homesteaded property, factoring in the 3 percent cap on valuation increases under the Save Our Homes amendment, the owner of a $170,000 home would pay $28.98 more than the previous year.

The commission did decide to lower the base rate of the water bill by $2, which means a resident would save about $24 annually.

Former commissioner Keith London said using the reserves every year is taking the city down a dangerous path.

“We will become Hollywood,” he said, referring to the neighbors to the north that found itself with a budget deficit of $38 million two years ago.

“We need to get it under control,” he said.

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