Palmetto Bay will pump money into downtown and increase funding for its police force, under the budget it approved last week.
On Monday, the village council tentatively approved a $22.9 million budget for next year, or about 3 percent more than last year’s $22.2 million budget.
The village also approved a tax rate of $2.447 for every $1,000 of taxable property, the same as this year’s rate. That means the longtime owner of a $300,000 home would pay about $624 in property taxes, a $12 increase over last year, assuming the owner qualifies for the $50,000 homestead exemption, and that the home’s taxable value increased by 1.7 percent, the maximum allowed this year for an owner-occupied home.
The village is budgeting for two additional full-time police officers, who had joined the force in mid-2013. The police department budget is projected to increase by about 5 percent, or $337,506, in the coming year.
In addition, $1 million will be pumped into revitalizing downtown, particularly the southbound U.S. 1 lanes east to Franco Road, from Southwest 184th Street north to 168th Street.
“With the exception of village hall, we’ve never spent any money in that area,” said Edward Silva, director of the Department of Building and Capital Projects.
The $1 million will be pumped into redoing streets, widening sidewalks, improving landscape and other infrastructure projects that will show off the area’s potential to future developers, he added.
“That’s the ‘we build it and they will come’ money,” said Bill Kress, the village’s communications director.
If more businesses were to open in Palmetto Bay’s downtown, the village’s tax base would diversify. Currently, 82 percent of the property taxes come from residents.
“This is really about increasing our revenues,” said Silva. “If we do not increase our revenues, we will be reaching a tipping point in the future.”
The village was able to offset the slightly higher budget proposed for next year thanks to savings accrued this year. Desmond Chin, the finance director, estimated the current budget will have about $1 million in accrued savings by Sept. 30, the last day of the fiscal year.
“Generally, all the departments were operating very conservatively and we were able to accrue savings,” he said.
The second and final budget hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday at Village Hall, 9705 E. Hibiscus St. The budget becomes effective Oct. 1.