Key Biscayne has cut its property-tax rate, but not as much as one Village Council member would have liked.
The village manager’s original budget proposal called for keeping the tax rate at $3.20 per $1,000 in taxable home value. But council members decided to go down to $3, although one councilman wanted to go to $2.70.
For the longtime owner of a home assessed at $475,000,the council’s decision means a village tax bill of $1,299, or about $60 less than the previous year. With the larger tax cut, the bill would have been $1,169. All of these figures assume the homeowner qualifies for the homestead exemption and that the property appreciates in value by 1.7 percent, the state limit.
The council decided to cut the tax rate because the village manager’s proposed budget had projected a surplus of nearly $1.7 million. Even after the agreed-upon tax cut, the village expects to maintain a surplus well over $500,000. The village usually socks away surplus money into its capital improvements projects fund, also known as CIP, which is used for big-ticket expenses.
When the subject of the tax rate arose, Councilman Edward London suggested reducing the tax rate to $2.70, saying that it could be paid for with the surplus from the previous year.
While several members of the council agreed with London’s proposal because it was fiscally sound on paper, the members ultimately voted to be more cautious.
“I agree with your theory but I’d rather take baby steps than big steps, so for me 3.0 is more prudent,” said Councilman Michael E. Kelly.
The council approved the $3 tax rate by a vote of 6-1, with London dissenting.
Three residents spoke during the council’s Sept. 24 budget hearing to oppose the council’s decision to lower the tax rate.
Brett Moss, a Key Biscayne resident for eight years, spoke about the overcrowding issues at the Key Biscayne K-8 Center and advised the council not to lower taxes and instead increase spending on their facilities.
The schools are the responsibility of the Miami-Dade School Board, which levies its own taxes. But Key Biscayne is one of several well-to-do municipalities that have been working out deals to help the School Board pay for improvements at specific sites.
In addition to changing the tax rate, the council added several capital improvement projects that they would like to work on in the future. The village has added to the CIP improvements for both the Key Biscayne K-8 Center as well as MAST Academy; the money will be used to alleviate overcrowding at K-8 Center and help expand the recreational facilities at MAST.
The village also has added to the CIP plans to help establish a permanent dog park after they found the current temporary dog park at 530 Crandon Blvd. to be a success. While the location has not been finalized, several council members suggested that it will likely remain where it is.
In addition, the CIP plan calls for a new amphitheater on the Village Green, a new senior center, and renovations for the village’s public library.