Miami Beach

Miami Beach passes $317M budget, increases stormwater fees

Miami Beach City Hall
Miami Beach City Hall Miami Herald file

Miami Beach’s City Commission approved a $317 million operating budget Tuesday while setting a slightly lower property tax rate that would still translate into a small increase on a typical homeowner’s bill.

Homeowners will also see in an increase in their stormwater fees after the commission approved a 36 percent increase to pay for the city’s ongoing infrastructure improvements to prevent flooding in the face of sea level rise.

Stormwater fees will rise for the second time in three years. The fees were increased 84 percent in 2014 to cover the issuance of the first series of bonds that are paying for one third of the city’s $300 million program to install pumps and raise roads.

On Oct. 1, the beginning of the new budget year, the monthly rate will jump from $16.67 to $22.67. The hike will cover the second $100 million in bonds.

On Tuesday, commissioners adopted a property tax rate of $5.88 per $1,000 of assessed property value, which is slightly lower than last year’s rate. This year’s decrease is attributed to a lower debt service rate.

Under the new rate, the owner of a median home valued at about $220,000 will pay about $1,004 in property taxes. This is a $5 increase from last year, assuming the owner qualified for the standard homestead exemption and the home’s assessed value increased by 0.7 percent, the maximum allowed by law this year for an owner-occupied home. The increase can be attributed to rising property values.

$317.2 millionSize of 2016-17 operating budget adopted Tuesday by Miami Beach City Commission

The Beach’s operating budget for the 2016-2017 fiscal year, $317.2 million, is 5.6 percent larger than the last year’s budget of $300.3 million.

One significant item: About $40 million from a combination of tax sources has been set aside for a planned $400 million light rail loop in South Beach, but $10 million from resort taxes could be redirected to shore up potential losses in resort tax revenue as the Zika virus continues to spread in the Beach.

Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, the sole no vote on the budget, is a vocal opponent of the light rail project.

“There’s a $40 million elephant in this budget,” she said on the dais. “It’s the train. This train is really controversial, and a lot of people, they want to be able to at least vote on this train.”

Commissioner Ricky Arriola, who chairs the commission’s finance committee, responded.

“It’s unfair to recast a very complicated budget we spent the summer building,” he said. “Furthermore we have an obligation to solve our traffic problems.”

Another budget item: $1 million in resort taxes will fund a new policing district to cover the city’s busiest night life sector along Ocean Drive, Washington Avenue and Collins Avenue. This includes 12 new police officers.

Joey Flechas: 305-376-3602, @joeflech