The State Of The City Part III: Revenues And Many City Issues Are In Focus
By Hallandale Beach Mayor, Joy Cooper
June 22, 2023
This article is the continuation of my State of the City Series of articles. This is Part III. Part I and II can be found on the South Florida Sun Times website: https://www.southfloridasuntimes.com/news - As we are in the midst of Hurricane Season please make sure you have your plan, place, and your supplies.
The first Revenue Generating Program was to adopt a citywide parking program. This program was a huge change for many of our residents. It had more benefits that I will highlight than just revenues that helped address some of those cans I have mentioned.
Many people were storing cars and personal recreation vehicles. Some residents were parking their personal cars on the street and renting their condominium spots. Vacation rentals were bringing in many vehicles for units intended for one car. We had residents from other cities storing their work vehicles. We even had one company using 3rd Avenue to run a rental car business. It was truly a mess.
With the parking fees we have ensured that our residents can access monthly parking passes that equate to only a dollar a day and made sure individuals with Disabilities are not burdened. This year we amended the program as promised and made changes to help the workforce particularly home care workers. Her program was implemented and actually opened up spots for residents, their visitors, and local businesses customers.
The first year generated approximately $1 Million. Revenues paid for operations and some of those cans I have mentioned.
The second Revenue Program was the new Certificate of Use Program. Many cities have had this program to ensure properties are being utilized for their intended use. This law will protect buyers from illegal conversion and ensure rental and commercial properties are being used properly, safely and are not homesteaded.
This past year our legislature reacted to COVID-19 by allowing 50% percent of any residential property to be used as a business. This is different from at home. When I say business, I mean businesses where customers come and go, employees can come and go. Obviously, there are some controls for hazardous businesses and parking regulations, but without the ability to inspect we cannot tell what is inside. More importantly, we cannot ensure that people or surrounding property owners are not being put at risk.
This issue combined with the extensive amount of VRBO made the Certificate of use program essential. The program was approved. Since the recent roll out, $80,000 dollars in review was generated so costs are being covered. I must share that the roll out of this new program was not without glitches. The startup was both manual and technology driven. The rollout resulted in many problems with the burden of manual computer entries, payments and printing of certificates. I apologize to those of you who have lost sleep over it and the Staff is working hard to address all your concerns.
One more Revenue generating policy was for our Utility Franchise Agreement. This idea came from our wonderful Finance Director Neste. Many cities are struggling regretfully to sell their utilities to private entities to gain Revenue. We own and operate our Utility. The fund pays the Franchise Fee to the General Fund which helped with an infusion of $1.5. This Revenue will continue for years to come.
Another critical issue has been the Building Department. I am happy to say we have filled all positions through a unique contract. Our City did not want to contract out the entire division. I have spoken before about the pitfalls of privatization. This new contract is with the CAP Government. They have worked as sole providers in many cities. Our agreement is unique because typically CAP wants all or nothing in a deal.
Dr. Earle negotiated a hybrid model, so all positions will be filled, our existing Staff will remain and our goal remains to hire permanent employees when we can. So, we are now fully staffed and also have additional access through the Broward County Contract.
This summer we are planning to open a service center for applicants that cannot utilize the online services. This has been the greatest problem. Our technology is similar to other cities. I am not saying it is perfect by any means, but some residents, companies and contractors have difficulty navigating it.
Our City has also begun reinvesting in our Technology Division. These systems are vital, and their secure operation is critical. Due to the reductions in investment and lack of oversight our City actually suffered a security breach 6 years ago, We have updated the system, increased capacity, and beefed-up security.
I do encourage everyone to visit our State-Of-The-Art website: www.hallandalebeachfl.gov - it is a wonderful resource. You can take a deeper dive into many issues. It includes great video clips explaining many projects and programs. We have an interactive budget page where you can evaluate each department, project and program. You can also go to the site and sign up for all city notifications. They include meetings for special events and emergency notification. Don't like surfing? You can get the myHBapp at: https://hallandalebeachfl.gov/1356/Download-our-apps - on it you can also get information and also report issues.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.