The Homestead City Council has tentatively approved a $167.3 million budget for next year, a 3.8 percent increase from this year’s budget.
The proposed budget maintains services and reduces the property tax rate.
“The strategy and the philosophy has been status-quo budget,” said City Manager George Gretsas during a budget hearing Wednesday night. “Hang in there, patch it up as best as you can and weather the storm.”
To “weather the storm” the city is partially relying on one-time revenue sources, such as transfers of surplus from the Electric, Water and Wastewater, and Solid Waste funds.
But, Gretsas warned, eventually the city has to change its philosophy because over time these one-time revenue sources may dry up.
The general fund budget, which takes care of day-to-day operations and is funded through the property tax, increased by 4 percent. The city has proposed to spend about $450,000 more on health-care costs for employees, council and mayor; an extra $470,000 to run the city’s baseball complex; and $127,000 for an additional police officer.
Homestead has also applied for a grant that would fund five more police officers. The outcome of the grant application will not be known until later in the year.
In addition, staff plans to spend $1.4 million more than this year on various capital improvement projects throughout the city.
The proposed tax rate for next year is $5.9215 for every $1,000 of taxable property, compared with this year’s of $6.2435 for every $1,000 this year. That means that the owner of an $80,000 home would pay about $186, about the same as this year. Those figures assume the owner qualifies for a $50,000 exemption, and that the home’s value increased by 1.7 percent, the maximum allowed this year for an owner-occupied home.
The budget year starts Oct. 1.
The second and final budget hearing will be held at 5:01 p.m. Sept. 25 at the William F. “Bill” Dickinson Community Center, 1601 N. Krome Ave.