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Bal Harbour proposes higher tax rate

Bal Harbour is proposing to increase its tax rate to help offset declining property values.

BY RODOLFO ROMAN
SPECIAL TO THE MIAMI HERALD
The Bal Harbour Council unanimously voted at its first budget hearing to increase the village’s property tax rate by 8.6 percent for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.
The village proposes to raise the rate from $2.308 per $1,000 of assessed valuation to $2.526.
Village Manager Alfred Treppeda said the village’s tax rate has to go up to offset an 8.38 percent decline in property values.
“With the reduction in property values county-wide, this was a very challenging budget year,” Treppeda said.
But even with the increase, the village still has one of the lowest property tax rates in the Miami-Dade County.
Under the proposed rate, the owner of a typical Bal Harbour home assessed at $652,031 taking the $50,000 homestead exemption would pay about $1,520 in annual municipal taxes.
The village projects that it will take in $13,261,858 in taxes and fees for the 2009-10 fiscal year — up from the current year’s $12.5 million.
Big-ticket items for the new budget include a storm water drainage project and bus shelter replacement.
However, $25,000 will come from federal funding to help pay for the bus shelters.
The storm water project will be financed.
Bal Harbour also plans to renovate its village hall, which will be paid for with funds from the county’s General Obligation Bond.
To save money, Treppeda does not plan to fill two public works positions after two employees retired.
The police department’s budget will also go down after an officer’s position is eliminated. However, one police officer will be paid by forfeiture funds. Currently, the village has 28 sworn-in police officers.
The village’s solid waste department’s budget will also go down, thanks to savings from lower disposal fees and less waste after the trash transfer station was eliminated, Treppeda said. Also, a position will be eliminated after an employee retired.
For the past few years, Bal Harbour has counted on a development agreement to helping shore up the village’s bottom line.
This upcoming budget year, Bal Harbour will receive $2.25 million from the St. Regis hotel and condo project, which is under construction.
However, that funding will end in the new fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, 2010.
Another potential future revenue problem: The St. Regis project might not be completed in time to be added to the tax roll for the 2010-11 fiscal year.
So the the village is already preparing, using $500,000 from the 2009-10 budget year to set aside for 2010-11 as part of a mileage rate stabilization fund.
“The village has been responsible in increasing its fund balance for the past several years, and will have to utilize a portion of it to get through the lag year,” the village manager said.
“In addition, a separate garbage fee, which most other cities have, will be recommended.”
The village council will make a final vote on the 2009-10 fiscal year budget at its final budget hearing at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Village Hall, 655 96th St.

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