Weather and an apparent lack of interest on the part of residents kept attendance at the “Budget Workshop” to only a dozen or so.
“We normally impose a three-minute time limit on speakers during public comments so that everyone gets a chance to speak, but there were so few people there we relaxed that restriction,” said Bill Kress, communications specialist for the village. “Even then, only two people got up to speak.”
Posted online through its official village website several weeks ago, the 118- page budget document, which outlines the problems all municipalities are facing during national economic hard times and state and county funding cutbacks, shows expenditures for village departments as well as current and projected revenues.
The new budget document cites the advancements made through completion of the new Village Hall and improved services there for residents. It suggests there will be no reduction in essential services and that the current millage rate will be maintained, but seems unclear on how it will affect the average village taxpayer.
“The Village of Palmetto Bay’s financial flexibility has allowed the municipality to maintain one of the lowest millage rates in the county, the fifth lowest in Fiscal Year 2010-11,” the buddget document states. “For Fiscal Year 2011-12, the village is proposing to maintain the current millage rate of 2.4470. Total assessed property values for Fiscal Year 2011-12 decreased by 1.28 percent from $2,389,172,061 to $2,358,676,121. For the average residential property owner, values increased from $225,924 to $226,315, this represents a $0.95 increase in property taxes to the Village.
“For the homesteaded, or Save Our Homes property owner, which allows assessments to increase by 3 percent or CPI, whichever is less as long as market values do not fall below assessed values, increased an average of $840 from $225,425 to $226,265. This represents a $2.06 increase in property taxes to the village for each homesteaded property.”
Mayor Shelley Stanczyk, interviewed on Aug. 30, said she understood why the turnout for the first meeting was so light.
“It was not the best night to come out, with all the rain, and since people knew their taxes weren’t going up any, they had less incentive to attend,” Stanczyk said. “But it was a good opportunity for people to see a blueprint of the year ahead, and I want to encourage residents to attend the next two meetings and contact their council member or me directly if they have any questions.”
Still ahead in the budget process are two required budget hearings. The “first reading” session on Sept. 12 follows the regular council meeting, and the final one on Sept. 26 when the council will vote to approve the new budget resolution with whatever amendments may have been made. Both meetings will provide opportunities for public comments. The new budget will go into effect on Oct. 1.
To view the proposed budget as a pdf file, visit the village website at www.palmettobay-fl.gov/ and click on the budget link there. Copies of the budget also are available in print at the Village Hall, 9705 E. Hibiscus St. Call 305-259- 1234 for additional information.