Miami Gardens - Opa-locka

Miami Gardens residents will pay more in taxes and fees next year

New development and an increase in property values will likely keep the property tax rate the same for Miami Gardens residents but homeowners will still see an increase in their monthly bills in the next fiscal year.

The City Council approved an increase in the monthly stormwater bill from $4 to $6, a move that the city said will help staff purchase new trucks and replace aging equipment for drainage treatment and maintenance.

The fee increase is the first in the city since it incorporated in 2003. The city, which currently collects about $3.7 million from stormwater fees, expects to receive about $5.6 million next year.

“It gives us enough revenue to do what we need to from a capital improvement standpoint and with equipment,” City Manager Cameron Benson said.

When the increase was first discussed in May some council members questioned why the increase hadn’t been contemplated earlier to deal with the aging equipment.

“As long as we’ve been a city, we just realized that this was an issue?” Councilman David Williams asked.

Gregory Netto, Miami Gardens’ assistant public works director, said the city’s need isn’t dire yet but staff felt it was a chance to speed up work and add to the department. Netto said cleaning drainage structures and doing citywide maintenance should take about two years but with the city’s current manpower and equipment, the work would take four or five years.

“We’re at the point now where we need that [fee] increase in order to give a better service,” Netto said.

While residents will see the $2 increase in stormwater fees, the city’s property tax rate is set to remain the same as it’s been for the past three fiscal years and homeowners will not see much of a change in what they’ll pay in property taxes.

As long as we’ve been a city, we just realized that this was an issue?

Councilman David Williams

The city’s tax rate, which received preliminary approval last month, will remain about $6.93 per $1,000 of assessed property value. The recommended rate requires final approval in September and can be lowered before the 2017-18 budget is approved, but an increase at this stage is unlikely.

A resident with a home valued at $90,000, the approximate median assessed value from the property appraiser’s office, will pay about $278 in city property taxes — only a slight increase from last year. That amount assumes two things: that the owner qualified for the standard homestead exemption and that the home’s assessed value rose by 2.1 percent, the maximum allowed by law this year for owner-occupied homes.

Property values increased by about 6.4 percent in Miami Gardens over last year, based on Miami-Dade Property Appraiser estimates.

Along with property taxes, residents will pay about $1.05 per $1,000 in debt service to continue paying down the city’s $60 million general obligation bond. That adds up to about $42 in debt service payment for a home with the median assessed value.

City staff, at a July 26 budget workshop, proposed a budget of about $118 million, which includes about $75 million for the city’s operating budget. Nearly half of that operating budget is set aside for police expenses.

There will be two public hearings for residents to give their input on the city’s proposed budget — at 6 p.m. on Sept. 12 and on Sept. 27 at City Hall, 18605 NW 27th Ave.

Lance Dixon: 305-376-3708, @LDixon_3