Miami Gardens - Opa-locka

Opa-locka leaders wrestle with tax rate

Opa-locka commissioners held the city’s first budget meeting on Sept. 10, and tentatively approved a tax rate of $8.90 per $1,000 of taxable property value, provided that city manager, Kelvin Baker, tries to lower it to $8.5.

Faced with a $2.4 million budget gap, Baker gave the council scenarios for tax rates of $8 and $8.90.

This year’s rate was $9.09.

Florida’s maximum tax rate for a city is $10 per $1,000 in taxable home value. Rates in other Miami-Dade cities range from under $1.73 in Aventura to $9.70 in tiny Biscayne Park.

Opa-locka’s $8 tax-rate proposal would have left a budget gap to $2.9 million, which Baker would have filled by laying off 12 employees and furloughing other employees for 24 days — almost five work weeks.

The council disregarded the $8 tax rate and focused on the $8.90 plan, which proposed no layoffs, but included the same number of furlough days.

Commissioner Dorothy Johnson said she could not support the furloughs or layoffs, and instead proposed other ways to save, such as removing or monitoring the car allowance that three officials get, along with options for carpooling.

“I am not for the layoffs, I’m not for the furloughs,” said Johnson, who proposed the motion backing the $8.9 tax rate with the condition that Baker delivers a rate “as close as possible” to $8.50 when the commission meets for a second reading on Sept. 24.

“I can promise to go back to the drawing board,” said Baker. “I will give it all I have,” he said about reworking the tax rate.