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Hallandale Beach Budget: Includes A Lowered Tax Rate This Year As promised

By Joy Cooper Hallandale Beach Mayor

July 11, 2024

At our last meeting before the July break, the Commission adopted our Tentative Millage Rate, Fire Fee, Debt Service and Safe Neighborhood Tax rates. Over the past months, the Staff and the Commission have been working on the 2024-2025 Budget. We had a briefing on the progress and were pleased that we are right on course. 

We have received the property valuations from the Broward County Property Appraiser's Office for Hallandale Beach. The citywide average property increase was 9%. Last year during our strategic 5-year plan we projected revenues for this year based on a 4% increase, so this was welcomed news. It kept us on track to reduce our Tax Rate. The increase in Revenues, a robust reserve and fiscally prudent strategic planning has reduced the Tax Rate from 8.24698  to 7.9998.

Our surplus funds are over the required 16% of General Fund Balance. Like last year there was a debate over cutting the Tax Rate even more. During the commission Debate, Dr. Earle warned us just because we have an above level reserve, “we are not out of the woods yet.” Remember last week, I shared we took $780,000 from reserves to buy much needed equipment to address flooding.

Tentative rates are set as part of the State’s statutory process. Under Save Our Homes and Truth in Millage there are a series of milestones that must be taken to ensure taxpayers are notified and prepared for the coming year’s taxes. The process ensures taxpayers have the ability to participate in the public hearing process before a final rate is passed by the Commission in September. Once the tentative rate is set, the City and the taxing authorities cannot increase their Tax Rate, but it can be reduced. 

Property appraisers in every county will be sending out tentative tax statements to all property owners. It is not the final bill. The final bills will be sent after October 1st. The Truth in Millage was established and requires the statement to include what last year’s taxes were, that rate would be to collect the same revenue as last year based on the new values and what the new tentative Tax Rate is set at.

The procedure requiring this type of statement is really not equitable. It is predicated on a concept that cities can operate and provide the same level of services at the same cost as the previous year. In other words, in a bubble free from all market conditions. While taxable values can go up and in turn increase revenues it does not include the true cost of services. Just like in your household the cost to maintain has gone up. Just like a business the cost of personnel supplies and insurance has gone up. 

Many cities set a higher rate at this time to provide flexibility. They can then fine tune and develop their budgets. As a City, we have a policy of setting the rate not higher but at a rate that we have calculated and planned for since February while developing the Budget. Last year, we projected the reduction and if it had not been for remarkably accurate strategic planning it would not have occurred.

While the rate can be reduced, we do not artificially increase it and simply reduce it. That is disingenuous. This year’s Budget began with the goals of having a balanced budget with no use of reserves while addressing our old Infrastructure and addressing the concerns of our residents. This year, we conducted a citywide survey so we can continue to move forward with measurable results.  

The tentative rate may still be reduced. At the Commission Meeting, we discussed many items including Staffing Levels. We continued the ongoing evaluation of contracted services. The City has always, and I concur, contracts for services should only be where and when they make sense. We have always looked at a hybrid approach. Contracts often leave municipalities with little control over quality and little or no control over built in cost increases.

At this meeting, the Budget is now given to the Commission. We get our chance now along with the public to review and analyze the data, projects and programs.

One item that was on my list was the carrying of vacant employee positions. Every city continues to have issues filling positions. The challenge is not simply finding talent, it is the overall cost of living. Each department budgets for employees that they deem are needed to accomplish the tasks at hand. There was a commitment from the City Manager to move forward over the next few weeks to reevaluate the requests and whether the positions are vital and needed. The review will also include whether duties that can be combined while not overburdening existing Staff resulting in burn out or worse resignations. 

The other item we passed was an increase in our Fire Fee. We have not increased this rate since 2018, six years. Cities can charge a fee for Fire Services. Fire and EMS are funded through both a general fund and a Fire Suppression Fee. The fee is calculated according to the type of property and square footage. We have a specialized third-party auditor to perform this calculation. 

The auditor evaluates all the costs, excluding EMS and Fire Inspections Services to see how much can be paid for through the Fire Fee. For example, a fire truck can be paid for directly from the Fire Fee. These costs are in the millions of dollars. Currently the fee is $265.06, the study actually found the maximum Fire Fee could be $385.48 for each residential unit with an increase on other properties based on use and square footage. It was recommended to increase the fee by only $82.92. This would allow for planning purchases and spread out any increases rather than a large amount up front.  

This rate obviously raised eyebrows on the Dais. Even though it was not the full amount. On the one hand we are lowering the Millage and reducing Taxes while on the other increasing the fee. This will be another important debate. 

Both Safe Neighborhood Districts Millage Rates will remain the same. This means a slight increase. The rates are not being reduced since there are capital improvements being planned to improve both areas. The current debt service for paying off the Parks GO Bond has been reduced.

At this time, I cannot tell you what the other taxing agencies, Broward County, Hospital District School Board nor the Water Management District, are planning.

I will go into further detail over the next weeks to review capital projects, our Homeless Initiative and additional program enhancements. I will also review the increase needed in our Stormwater Rates to maintain and increase Stormwater Management. This is extremely vital for a sustainable future but it is also expensive. 

As always feel free to contact me anytime with your questions and concerns at my mail to: Or at: mail to: I can always be reached by Phone or Text at: (954) 632-5700. Working for you! Always Have! Always will!

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