The Aventura City Commission tentatively approved a nearly $58 million budget for the next fiscal year without a property tax increase, marking the city’s 19th year achieving the feat.
City Manager Eric Soroka attributed the stagnation in property taxes to “an increase in taxable values and limiting our operating cost increase to 3.7 percent.”
The Miami-Dade County property appraiser assessed Aventura property values at $8.394 billion, a 7.8 percent increase or $607,878 more than last year. A figure that was still down from its prerecession value of $9.609 billion, Soroka stated in a letter addressing the commission.
The commission also approved the recommended ad valorem millage levy of 1.7261, which is the same rate that was adopted last year. Soroka noted the rate was the lowest in Miami-Dade County. This is expected to generate $13,764,950 compared to last year’s amount of $12,768,153.
The proposed 2014-15 budget is $57,716,594, an increase of $1,082,051 or 1.9 percent.
“The increase was related to normal personnel and operating increases,” Soroka said in an email.
The 3.7 percent increase in operating costs at $31,461,379 is due in part to an eight percent increase or $168,000 in health insurance premiums, Soroka noted. Also, the police motorcycle unit is being reactivated with the addition of two officers to assist in the traffic unit. There is also increased funding for “movie nights” and programming at the Arts & Cultural Center.
Building inspection and review costs were also increased due to an increase in building activity, including the construction of the Park Square Aventura mixed use project and the expansion of the Aventura Mall. Soroka credits these “positive recovery signs” as the reason the city, for the first time in three years, has not had to use reserve funds to balance the budget and fund nonrecurring capital projects.
Other operating increases outlined in the budget include:
$1,328,000 for drainage, street lighting and road resurfacing on NE 29th Place.
$710,000 for road resurfacing on NE 207th Street and three service roads in the Biscayne Lake Gardens residential complex.
$1,500,000 in upgrades and expansion to the city’s traffic video monitoring system.
$781,450 for police equipment needs such as laptop computers and new police vehicles.
There are public hearings on the 2014-15 budget scheduled for Sept. 8 and Sept. 17.