Miami Shores

Miami Shores rejects ‘discretionary accounts’ for council members

Miami Shores held its first budget hearing Monday night and leaders have tentatively approved the village’s $24 million budget.

The council also approved a tax rate of about $8.64 per $1,000 of taxable property. Garbage and storm water utility fees will remain the same at $705.52 and $45 per year.

The tax rate includes 64 cents per $1,000 for debt service, down from 69 cents per year. The money will repay debts associated with building the city’s charter school and swimming pool.

For the owner of a home with a taxable value, after the standard $50,000 homestead exemption, of $173,000, next year’s village tax bill would be about $1,493, up about $16 from this year. These figures assume the home’s assessed value increased by 1.5 percent, which is the maximum allowed this year under the state constitution.

One of the biggest points of contention in the budget was the $5,000 from the contingency to fund a $1,000 discretionary account for each council member, originally suggested by Vice Mayor Jesse Walters at the budget workshop in July.

Council members discussed several possible uses for the money, such as attending educational events for elected officials or paying expenses while on village business. Council members are now paid $1 a year. Members don’t get expense accounts, but the full council sometimes votes to reimburse members for particular expenses.

Two residents, both former council members, argued against the discretionary accounts.

“I don’t personally see the rationale, and I haven’t heard anything in the issues so far that would give me a reason to support and understand why this expense report would be required after all this time,” said former councilman Robert Butler. “I can think of a lot of things that might come out of the contingency fund, honestly an expense account for the council members is not one of them.”

Mayor Herta Holly said the discretionary accounts are a bad idea.

“I’m going to vote against any fund because I don’t believe in it.”

Councilman Jim McCoy motioned to approve the budget with the exception of the $1,000 set aside for each council member’s spending budget.

McCoy’s motion passed 4-1, with Walters dissenting. The tax rate passed unanimously.

The second Miami Shores Village Council budget hearing will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Village Hall, 10050 NE Second Ave.