The village of Palmetto Bay will hold its two annual budget hearings on Tuesday, Sept. 8, and Monday, Sept. 21, at Village Hall, 9705 E. Hibiscus St.
The hearings will come after a series of five town hall workshops that were held this month so that residents can give city officials their feedback.
Village Mayor Eugene Flinn, said the meetings were designed to have the community give input on what they wanted to see done in their neighborhoods prior to budget hearings in September.
It’s the first time the municipality takes its gatherings “on the road,” with town hall meetings at park recreation centers and meeting rooms throughout the community over the past month.
“This is such an important time,” Flinn said. “As we forge our upcoming fiscal year budget, we are ensuring we hear first-hand how Palmetto Bay residents want their tax dollars spent.”
Some residents said they wanted see the village invest in bettering the storm drainage system, improving the police unit’s response times (buying them new equipment), see traffic calming initiatives take place, such as speedbumps in their neighborhoods. They also said they wanted the parks to have updated playgrounds and exercise equipment.
City officials say they agree with residents’ concerns and plan to include funds in the upcoming budget to address their requests.
In the works is a downtown area along U.S. 1, which has millions of dollars earmarked for the foundation and development of the project, something elected officials say will ultimately expand their tax base.
“I often tell residents, ‘This is your village ... this is your budget,’ and so we have a mandate to truly represent their wants and needs in a fair and fiscally responsible way,” Flynn said
The five public workshops focused on specific topics like user fees and village capital improvements plans, public safety, pedestrian walkways, park improvements and public works infrastructure projects.
“A really good budget is reflective of a community’s values,” Flinn said. “It is obvious then that we value family-oriented events, aggressive stormwater management, traffic calming, and an invigorated well-planned downtown district with restaurants, shops, and entertainment closer to home.
“We’re definitely going in the right direction as we move closer to adopting a final budget during the two planned budget hearings in September,” he added.
Bill Kress, the city’s spokesman, said the timing of the community workshops leading to the budget hearings was key.
“It’s better to take the process out to the people,” Kress said. “It’s difficult to get the community involved with a topic that isn’t very sexy — budgets. It’s better to have their input now rather than when after decisions are made.”