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El Portal residents face bigger tax bill but could pay less for trash collection

A reduced trash fee could offset a proposed tax increase for many El Portal residents.

By Rodolfo Roman

El Portal residents will see a tax hike if the Village Council approves a proposed budget under discussion at public hearings this month.

The proposal calls for a tax rate of $8.30 per $1,000 of taxable property value, up from this year’s $7.90.

The good news is that the tax increase could be offset with a cut to the village’s trash collection fee.

For the longtime owner of a house appraised last year at $150,000, the increase would work out to an increase of about $58. That assumes the owner qualifies for the standard $50,000 homestead exemption and that the home’s assessed value increased by 1.5 percent, the most allowed this year under state law.

People who bought their homes more recently may see a smaller increase or even a tax cut if their property has continued to fall in value.

The reason for increasing the tax rate: Mainly to settle a worker’s compensation lawsuit and make final lease payments on three police vehicles said Jason Walker, village manager.

The village has 10 police vehicles including the three cars.

As for the lawsuit, on the advice of counsel, the village settled a worker’s compensation claim for $75,000. Officer Rosemary Oliva, who was not on-duty working for El Portal, was in a retail store when she saw a suspect shoplifting and ran after the subject. During the incident, she pulled her hamstring. She needed back surgery due to the injury.

Residents will see a financial reduction for solid waste and recycling fee. It will be reduced by $53 per single-family home.

The current fee for a single family is $373, but it will be decreased to $320 for next year.

The village’s projected total spending for this coming budget is $1,591,424, down from this year’s $1,687,642.

El Portal’s new tax rate still needs to go before the council during two budget hearings before taking effect Oct. 1, the start of the 2011-12 fiscal year.

For the upcoming year, the village will be working improvements to infrastructure and parks. Work could be begin on landscaping new areas, walking paths, benches or lighting. But, the finances come from the Florida Department of Transportation and Miami Dade County. The village’s general fund will not apply to the works.

The village is prepared for any natural disaster as it has a healthy rainy day fund, said Walker.

“It’s around $400,000 in unrestricted and $400,000 in restricted funds,” he said.

Restricted funds are those that can only be spent for a specific purpose.

Walker said there is a positive outlook on the village’s budget.

“It’s getting better,” he said. “We think property values will continue to go up year by year. We just need to maintain our expenditures to stay in line with revenue.”

The first budget hearing will be at 7 p.m. on Sept. 14 followed by the second at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 27. Both hearings will take place at village hall 500 NE 87th St.

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/09/06/2393293/el-portal-residents-face-bigger.html#storylink=misearch#ixzz1Xbg8KFto

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