Aventura - Sunny Isles

Sunny Isles Beach gives tentative OK to budget

Sunny Isles Beach commissioners have tentatively approved a $76million budget for the next fiscal year.

The commissioners also approved an tax rate of $2.60 per $1,000 in assessed home value, down slightly from this year’s $2.70.

This is expected to generate almost $19 million, compared to last year’s $17.7million.

The Miami-Dade County property appraiser assessed Sunny Isles Beach property values at $7.679billion compared to $6.736billion last year. However, the assessed value of an owner-occupied home can go up no more than 1.5 percent this year because of limits in the state constitution.

The city’s nearly 14 percent, or $800 million, increase in assessed value is due mainly to increased in property value and not new construction, City Manager Chris Russo said.

“That is pretty incredible [considering] we have 15 projects in some stage of development in the city,” Russo said.

The proposed $76million budget is smaller than this year’s budget of $93 million.

The 2014 budget included at least $40million for the construction of major one-time projects such as Gateway Park at 18115 North Bay Road and two pedestrian bridges in the city.

Gateway Park, which will include restaurants, a water feature and a theater stage, is expected to be completed in March 2015 and both bridges are expected to begin construction this year.

As the capital projects are completed, the focus of the Sunny Isles will shift to providing “world class services and maintenance” for at least the next five years, Russo said. This goal resulted in a 9 percent increase in operating expenses to $49.3million compared to last year’s $42.9million.

Some of the operating expenses include:

▪ Full-time staff from opening to close in city parks, including Heritage, Town Center, Pelican Park and Community Center, Senator Gwen Margolis and Gilbert Samson parks

▪ Adding two officers for community policing in the parks and city. Two more officers are expected to be added the following year.

▪ Adding a parking attendant at the Pier Park at 18070 Collins Ave. seven days a week instead of just holidays and weekends.

Commissioners will vote on final approval of the budget on Sept. 23.