What’s in Laud­erdale’s $766.7M bud­get plan?

Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - - LOCAL - By Brit­tany Wall­man Staff writer Brit­tany Wall­man can be reached at bwall­man@sun-sen­tinel .com or 954-356-4541. Find her on Twit­ter @Brit­tanyWall­man.

It’s that time of year again. Fort Laud­erdale is de­cid­ing how to spend $766.7 mil­lion in the pub­lic’s money.

Whether you live and pay taxes in Fort Laud­erdale, or just head there for work, for beaches or for bars, there are some changes you might no­tice:

A new, $1.4 mil­lion road main­te­nance team is pro­posed, with 12 new em­ploy­ees.

Pot­holes: Night­time economy team:

Busi­nesses that are open after dark cre­ate unique chal­lenges. The bud­get pro­poses a rov­ing team with po­lice, fire, code en­force­ment, main­te­nance and parks em­ploy­ees to solve prob­lems. The $1.4 mil­lion team would have 11 em­ploy­ees.

Po­lice body cam­eras:

Should you get into some kind of en­counter with an of­fi­cer, the like­li­hood there’ll be video is in­creas­ing. The bud­get in­cludes about $180,000 for the fledg­ling body cam­era pro­gram. Po­lice Chief Rick Maglione said the depart­ment will test 35 cam­eras at a time, for a year, then move for­ward with a full roll­out. The money will pay for two clerks and an ad­min­is­tra­tive as­sis­tant to man­age the video. The city al­ready agreed to pay half the $1.2 mil­lion cost for cam­eras, shar­ing the to­tal with the fed­eral gov­ern­ment.

The city’s goal is that no pedes­trian would be killed by an au­to­mo­bile. The trend for now is in the wrong di­rec­tion, City Man­ager Lee Feld­man said. In 2013, 18 peo­ple — in­clud­ing driv­ers — died on the city’s roads, he said. Last year, 32 did. To that end, another $617,000 is pro­posed to be spent. “We have to rec­og­nize we have an is­sue,” Feld­man said.

Adding pub­lic Wi-Fi sig­nals to city parks will cost $70,000, for those who want to stay con­nected to the in­ter­net in­stead of play­ing on a swing.

Vi­sion Zero: Wi-Fi: Fire­fighter-paramedics:

If you hap­pen to fall off a swing, you might get a faster re­sponse from the fire depart­ment. Ten more fire­fighter-paramedics will be hired, for $772,000.

How much will it cost you? The city’s propos­ing keep­ing its prop­erty tax rate and fire fee the same, but rais­ing rates for wa­tersewer, san­i­ta­tion and stormwa­ter.

For the owner of a $350,000 house that grew in value this year by the av­er­age 8 per­cent, the in­crease in the city por­tion of the prop­erty tax bill would be about $115, with the bill at $1,557. For the owner of a $350,000 house that’s a pri­mary res­i­dence and pro­tected by state homestead laws, the value would in­crease only 2.1 per­cent, and $50,000 in value would be ex­empt from tax­a­tion. The in­crease would be about $30 and the bill $1,266.

Wa­ter and sewer charges go up 5 per­cent a year in Fort Laud­erdale, au­to­mat­i­cally. On the av­er­age bill, that’s an in­crease from $60.09 a month to $63.11 a month.

San­i­ta­tion rates are pro­posed to in­crease 3 per­cent, from $30.69 a month to $31.61.

One bit of good news: The city’s debt tax, which ap­pears on the prop­erty tax bill, will be 2.2 per­cent lower this year, be­cause some debt has been paid off.

Stormwa­ter fees are pro­posed to in­crease 25 per­cent. For res­i­den­tial own­ers, that’s a monthly in­crease from $8 to $10.

The city’s fire fee of $256 won’t change.

At a bud­get work­shop Tues­day night, city com­mis­sion­ers talked about spend­ing more money to im­prove the wa­ter-sewer sys­tem. One com­mis­sioner, Bruce Roberts, said the city should con­sider rais­ing prop­erty taxes to ac­cel­er­ate the projects, but it’s un­likely this late in the bud­get season.

Pub­lic hear­ings are Sept. 6 and Sept. 13.

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