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Village approves tax hike but cuts trash fee

El Portal residents will get a higher tax rate, but a lower fee for trash collection under the new 2011-12 budget.

By Rodolfo Roman
Special to The Miami Herald

El Portal residents will receive a tax increase for 2011-12.

At Tuesday’s final budget hearing, council members unanimously approved a tax rate of $8.30 per $1,000 of taxable property value, up from this year’s $7.90.

But, the tax addition will 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 village needs the tax hike mainly to settle a worker’s compensation case 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.

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.

Walker said he is optimistic about El Portal’s financial future.

“We should be fine,” he said. “We have done all of the prudent things during difficult times, I can say I see light at the end of the tunnel.”

El Portal’s new budget is effective Oct. 1.

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