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