The State Of The City Part II: The Budget And Many City Issues Are In Focus
By Hallandale Beach Mayor, Joy Cooper
June 15, 2023
This is Part II of the series of my “The State of the City Address” and I do hope that you enjoy it. It reviews the Budget and covers many of the issues our City Manager and the Commission are addressing. It has been kept in speech form. I spoke last year about the American Recovery Plan. Putting partisan politics aside President Biden and Congress took measures to help get our country through COVID-19. He actually saved many cities across the nation to stave off bankruptcy. We used ARPA and spread it over three years as part of our plan. Remember when we set out on this recovery, ARPA was not even a reality
Our City Commission, City Manager and our Staff adopted and stuck with the stabilization plan. It has moved us forward and as of last year, I am proud to announce that we passed a balanced Budget without the use of reserves. Finally, Stability.
It did not come easy and with a very tough political decision to increase our Millage Rate. Those of you that have gotten to know me, understand I am straight forward when it comes to tough issues. Without Taxes and Fees, we simply cannot provide services. They are intricately intertwined.
Cuts in Taxes are great that is why so many elected officials promise they want to cut Taxes. But they fail to tell you on the other hand what else they will cut.
Another poor political strategy is doing nothing to maintain Services or Infrastructure. This shows a lack of leadership and vision. This flaw combined with past economic downturns got our City into a financial wreck.
Last year, I briefed the Chamber about this robust plan. The first strategy included putting in place the establishment of Cross Departmental Teams to address every aspect of the City. No more operational silos.
Financially, we adopted these strategies. A Hiring Freeze. Filling Vacancies was put on hold, except for vacant Police and essential Staff positions. As we know there continues to be social and civil unrest over policing. I am standing here today and very proud of the changes we have made to address those issues far ahead of many Cities.
We started years ago, when I asked for support to install cameras at all our parks and focus on technology. The next measures were Police Body Cameras brought forward by Commissioner Michele Lazarow. Proof that leadership absolutely matters, was the fact that our department became weak and rudderless.
We were down to over 22 officers. At that time, Vice Mayor Annabelle Lima-Taub ran on a Public Safety Platform. When I returned to the Dais we joined forces and said no more. Our residents deserve a safe community, and it is our highest duty to ensure it.
The City Manager appointed our new Chief Michel Michel, a veteran of our Department. He is dedicated to Community Policing and trained under one of our Greatest Chiefs, Tom Magill. We became an Accredited Department. This year marks our 5 years of Accreditation.
Currently, we have filled many vacancies and have 94 uniformed officers. We increased uniform patrols to 100 with new hires in the pipeline.
The next financial stability measure was adding only positions tied to Revenue generating activities.
Examples of these types of positions are the Building Department, Permitting and Code Enforcement.
The Commission stood firm and even made the toughest decision to increase the Tax Rate last year to 82 mills. While this was not great news it was the right thing to do to secure the future of the City. In all, it equated to approximately $6 Million Dollars per Mill.
We used the first tranche of ARPA of $9 Million Dollars of Relief. This Budget, we used $4.9 Million and another $4.9 Million will be used this year. So, what does last year’s Budget look like and what has changed?
Our General Fund budget is $98 Million Dollars. So, the biggest question I am always asked is what about all the new developments? What about property value increases? Are you going to cut Taxes? There is a two-part answer to this.
Last year’s overall City property increase was 10%, but not all of these increases go to the General Fund. It is true that new sales and new development pay the full rate and 10% is a great number.
The CRA receives contributions from the General Fund that comes from all properties and new Redevelopments west of 14th Avenue. Last year, this amount was $12 Million. As with every business we have Operating Costs that are fixed and must be paid. While this slide is pretty hard to read. The bottom line is $98 Million Dollars.
The cost to drivers of this year included; The CRA Contribution. Renewal and Replacement Program for City Facilities and Fleet Replacement, were programs that were adopted back into our Budget. Meaning two cans not kicked down the road.
The BSO Contract, Motor Fuels and other employee costs such as Health Care, Cost Of Living and the General Employee, Police and Fire Pensions. The increase in General Fund Operating Costs last year increased approximately $12 Million Dollars. Revenues, which include the 10% increase, were approximately $12 Million in Revenues.
So, you can see that increases in value compared to our costs create a very tight Budget scenario. So, like you, we are always looking at ways to either cut costs or generate other Revenues.
Part III next week, includes Revenue.
As always, I am available for your questions, concerns and ideas to help make our City a better place. Please feel free to reach out to me at my Office: (954) 457-1318. On my Cell/Text at: (954) 632-5700. Or Email me at: email@example.com.