Cutler Bay

Cutler Bay lowers property tax rate at final budget hearing

A decrease in Cutler Bay’s property tax rate highlighted the town’s final budget hearing on Thursday at Town Hall.

The Cutler Bay council unanimously voted to reduce the town’s tentative property tax rate from $2.53 per $1,000 of taxable property value to $2.39 per $1,000 of taxable property value. A budget of $52,018,174 also was unanimously approved.

The 2015-16 fiscal budget year begins Oct. 1 and ends Sept. 30, 2016.

Town Manager Ralph Casals said the budget process began in April, when department heads submitted their respective budgets to him.

The town hosted budget workshops on July 22 and Aug. 12. On July 15, the council adopted a proposed, initial “ceiling” tax rate of $2.53 per $1,000 of taxable property value. The town’s 2015 property values increased 8.8 percent since 2014, as certified by the property appraiser’s office.

“Our residents want transparency,” Mayor Peggy Bell said from the dais. “They deserve transparency and we do strive to give that every day. The more we can make it accessible, the better.”

The town will bring in $383,222 more as a result of the increasing property values.

“In this particular situation, I feel pretty confident that $2.3907 is appropriate and the only thing that is increasing our town taxes is as the vice mayor said, the good thing, about your property value going up,” Bell said. “It is still a minimal amount, when you look at what your taxes are for the town, compared to public school taxes and the other charges that you look at on your tax bill.”

The town council previously investigated the possibility of adopting its rollback rate, but decided to increase town services instead, such as hiring three new patrol officers.

“I feel very confident that this is a good rate,” Bell said at the hearing. “I think we have tightened our belts really well. As councilwoman [Sue Ellen] Loyzelle said, we have certainly looked at the roll back rate to see if we could do that, but the public would like more police officers, other amenities so we are doing everything we can to address that.”