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El Portal keeps same tax rate

BY RODOLFO ROMAN
Special to The Miami Herald
The El Portal Village Council unanimously approved a tax rate of $7.84 at its final budget hearing Tuesday — the same as the current rate.

Under the proposed rate, which takes effect Oct. 1, the owner of a typical El Portal home assessed at $151,689 taking the standard $50,000 homestead exemption, would pay $797 in property taxes.

Some homeowners may actually pay less than this year because of falling property values. El Portal property values have fallen more than 17 percent, according to the Miami-Dade property appraiser’s office. The proposed $1.8 million budget trims roughly $155,000 from the current 2008-09 budget.

Despite keeping the same tax rate, the village had to keep a close eye on its finances by making cuts to departments..

One department taking a major hit under the proposed budget: code enforcement, which will decrease to $2,900 compared to last year’s $63,887.

The reason: El Portal no longer has a code enforcement officer. The village’s eight police department officers now also serve as code enforcement officials, a change that began in May.

Also, the village cut its state lobbyist, which will help save $15,000. Village manager Jason Walker added that funding for tree trimming will be reduced by more than half: $10,000 for 2009-10 compared to the $25,000 allotted for tree trimming in the current budget. On the other hand, Walker said the village would be prepared in case of an emergency.

El Portal has maintained a healthy reserve account keeping more than $700,000 in reserves for use in emergencies such as hurricanes.

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