Miami Beach is proposing an 84 percent increase in storm water fees — the cost of keeping rising seas at bay — with more rises in the future.
The property tax rate, however, may remain about the same, although many homeowners are likely to see a higher tax bill because property values in the city are up about 7 percent.
If the storm water fee increase passes, residential customers would pay $16.67 a month, an increase of $7.61 per month from the current rate.
The proposed property tax rate is about $6.09 per $1,000 of taxable assessed property value. That is slightly lower than last fiscal year’s rate of about $6.12 per $1,000. The decline is due to a decrease in the city’s debt-service rate.
If the city wanted to collect the same amount of money as last year, the tax rate would have to decrease by about 65 cents per $1,000 of taxable assessed value to offset the uptick in property values.
Under the proposed rate, the typical homeowner with a home assessed at about $197,000 and taking the standard homestead exemption would pay about $918 in city taxes, about $63 more than last fiscal year. County, school district and other property levies are separate.
Votes on the storm water and property tax rate are scheduled for Wednesday’s City Commission meeting. Both must be approved again later before becoming final.
The proposed storm water increase is the result of a decision by commissioners in February to use higher sea level rise projections when building city projects. The new standards are expected to cost $300 million.
City Commissioner Deede Weithorn has questioned the price tag and whether the city has firm plans in place for all the money.
“I have to be comfortable that we need every dollar,” she said at a recent committee meeting.
Weithorn told the Miami Herald that she would like the city to explore using money from a special taxing district and pursuing grant funds before issuing all of the proposed bonds.
“I kind of want kind of a larger game plan, and when these projects would actually start,” she told the Herald.
The city hopes to pay for infrastructure projects, which include pumps to suck water out of soggy streets. About $30 million in storm water improvements are already approved. Plans call for 65 new pump stations and improvements to 21 existing wells.
“It’s just essential,” Commissioner Joy Malakoff said at a committee meeting.
To pay for the projects, Miami Beach plans to sell three bond issues of $100 million each. The bonds would be issued over the next three to five years.
Each series would mean a bump up in storm water fees, which are projected to eventually reach $27.38 a month, according to a report by the city’s finance director at a recent committee meeting.