Coral Springs’ City Commission unanimously adopted the Business Plan for Fiscal Year 2008 on Tuesday, July 24, marking the midway point in the City’s budget process. This year, property tax reform made the process more difficult than ever, but the City has been expecting property tax reform for several years and was able to plan ahead to minimize the impact on the organization and its residents.
While the City’s tax rate has always been lower in comparison to other cities, the recent increases in property values, coupled with frugal spending habits, has afforded the City the opportunity to generate modest year-end surpluses for the past few years. The City carefully invested these resources for the betterment of the community, including paying off expensive debt, funding depreciation to pay for replacement equipment, and replenishing the nearly depleted emergency reserves after covering the cleanup costs due to Hurricane Wilma. The City was able to renegotiate its contract for managing the Coral Springs Center for the Arts, reducing its financial exposure by 34%.
Despite the City’s cost saving strategies, it will still be faced with difficult decisions in cutting $3.5 million from its annual budget this year, and additional cuts of at least $3.25 million in Fiscal Year 2009 if the constitutional amendment passes in January 2008. City Manager Mike Levinson noted that the impact would have been “much worse” if the City had not been planning for this situation.
As a result, the City’s millage rate will decrease by 13.3% next year, saving the typical homesteaded homeowner $88.24 in City ad valorem property taxes alone for 2008.
Other services will have to be scaled back, but City officials made sure the services could be delivered through other means. For instance, the City can no longer subsidize the West Atlantic Library, but is working with the county to ensure that the programs and materials stay within the City, at the Northwest Regional Library. Similarly, while the City is reassigning some elementary school resource officers to patrol, every elementary school will have an officer on campus each week.
“Our goal was to balance the budget with the least impact on residents, protecting the products and services they rely on, and creating additional value at minimal cost,” said Levinson.
In September, the City will hold two budget hearings, which are scheduled for September 14 and 18 at 5:15 PM. The adopted millage and fire assessment rate will be announced at the first budget hearing.
As of Friday, July 27, the City’s Strategic Plan and Business Plan for Fiscal Year 2008 will be available at coralsprings.org/publications.