Parking & The Budget: Balancing a City’s Budget, Is Often a Daunting Task

By Hallandale Beach Mayor, Joy Cooper

June 24, 2021

Over the past week, there have been many residents reaching out to the Commission, regarding parking. I know that I have written about this twice, but, I will continue to keep the residents informed. Parking is only one part of a larger issue, addressing the revenues in our city.

The parking plan expansion will address implementation, management and yes, revenues. There will be a Zoom Meeting at Town Hall, on July 19th, 2021 at 6:00 p.m. To sign up for the meeting and to review, all of the facts about this program, there is a landing page with all of the information on our web-site at: www.cohb.org.

Over the past ten years, there have been many decisions, good and bad, that have helped the City move forward, while maintaining our services. Balancing a City’s budget, is often a daunting task. The City Manger and The Staff need to have clear, concise information and accurate reporting. Leadership is key and with the past year’s turmoil, turnover and lack of technology investments, this has shown, that clear information has been elusive. Even with having information, there needs to be oversight and a vision of where we need to be, as a City. It is a joint effort, where the Commission, is involved, it is also where residents need to get involved and provide input.

There is this temptation to look to the past with questions like: How did we get here? Who was in charge? Why did we make that decision? Why did we not make that decision? It is not, that it is not important to understand why we have gotten here, but, it does not also change what we need to do as a City and as a Commission, moving forward. As the old saying goes, “It is water under the bridge.”

I would, however, like to say that NO, is a not a solution when it comes to the budget. Political populism often gives way to practical solutions and often, it creates, extremely difficult decisions. We need to get three votes, to pass a budget and it is required, by law.

During the last budget Meeting, we had a turnover, in our City Manager's position. Dr. Jeremy Earle was hired from within our organization, before working for Hallandale Beach, Dr. Jeremy Earle, worked as an Assistant City Manager, in Fort Lauderdale, before that, he was The Dania CRA's Executive Director. I had a chance to work with Dr. Jeremy Earle, in his capacity, as a Board Member of The Florida Redevelopment Board of Directors and then, as President. We do not have control over hiring positions under the City Manager, but when his name came up, I was happy to share my observations.

I have personally been watching Dr. Jeremy Earle’s career, over the last year and really pushed to get him hired. Dania’s CRA, was established without a tax increment and funding a partnership, with Broward County, which means that there is no money, except, for the City’s funding. Dr. Jeremy Earle’s prowess, creativity, financial knowledge and leadership have been proven, in the progress, that we all have seen with the growth of Dania.

During his terms as President of the FRA, he took their budget and turned it around with his stability and leadership, skills. He was hired in Fort Lauderdale, by City Manager Feldman, who, is considered one of the Deans of Fort Lauderdale's City Managers. If anyone can correct the course of our City’s finances, it definitely, is Dr. Jeremy Earle.

Over the years, our City and many other cities have had to deal with, the artificial restraints of Save Our Homes, the State’s meddling, our ability to raise taxes and fee’s, the state's unfunded mandates and the voter's referendums to reduce taxes. They all sound great, but, we have had grave consequences with our ability to provide services to our residents demand's and what the law requires. City’s can levy up to 10 mills on a property, Cities, like ours, have special districts, that can only tax up to 8 mills, currently, we are at 7 mills and we are faced with a cap. The alternatives are to raise fees, leverage our City's assets in the public realm, this generates revenues or, it can cut services.

Over the years, we have used our reserves or sold some of the City's assets, to balance our budget. Reserves are needed in the case of natural disasters and should be used, in certain instances. Years ago, we held reserves that almost equaled, our amount for the general fund. There was huge public and statewide push, to reduce and reverse it to realist levels. Government agencies typically, have debated on where, the sweet spot for reserves with a range of 10 to 15%. Currently, we, will be out of reserves by 2024, if all of the things, remain the same. So, this is the year, to evaluate, all of the avenues to increase revenues. We also need to come together and look at all of the contracts and the services, to evaluate realistic levels of service, within our City's Budgets.

The City Manager's Budget was released this Monday and over the next month, as a commission, we will be reviewing the budget, this will give us, the chance to review provided changes and uses of the votes for the Budget.

I encourage all of our residents, to get involved with the process and provide us with your input. Your help with this process will determine the future for all hallandale beach residents.

As always, feel free to contact me anytime with your questions, concerns and ideas on how to make our City, a great place to live, work and play! I am available on my phone or by text at: (954) 632-5700. You can e-mail me at: jcooper@cohb.org. Or visit my Facebook page at: Mayor Joy Cooper. Or you can visit, my web-site at: www.MayorJoyCooper.com