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July 24, 2008: City’s 2009 Business Plan decreases taxes while preserving important services

At a second Business Plan workshop held on July 22, the City of Coral Springs presented a balanced Fiscal Year 2009 budget without a tax increase, effectively combating the multiple economic threats plaguing cities throughout South Florida.

“Relying upon our business model and corporate culture, we have proactively planned and positioned our organization to address this Herculean challenge,” City Manager Michael S. Levinson said. “Our residents will actually enjoy meaningful savings.”

The operating millage will remain the same, while the debt service millage will decline by .6 percent. This means that the owner of a home assessed at the Coral Springs average will save at least $64 in City taxes next year. User fees and the fire and solid waste assessment fees will increase only by the rate of inflation.

The City presented a set of new Fiscal Year 2009 initiatives tied to its seven strategic priorities. The Business Plan this year is focused on helping residents and businesses through this difficult economic period. Additional initiatives focus on green efforts and saving energy where possible.

A few of the initiatives presented include:

· Small Business Sustainability: This initiative, coupled with a “Buy Coral Springs” campaign, will be a follow-up to surveys done earlier this year that clearly indicated a need and desire for small business assistance.

· Foreclosures—Neighborhood Protection: The City will implement a new ordinance with strict maintenance standards for bank-owned properties, as well as coordinate with other agencies to educate homeowners and HOAs on foreclosure prevention.

· Sustainability (Green) Index: This index sets targets and develops measurements for a broad spectrum of green and sustainable benchmarks, and is a major step toward setting aggressive sustainability goals for the organization.

How was the City able to balance the budget and develop new initiatives without a tax increase or service cuts? Essentially by relying on the principles that characterize its receipt of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award—leadership, strategic planning and problem solving. This same methodology will help lay the groundwork for Fiscal Year 2010, which the City is predicting to be even more challenging than 2009.

“The real value to our customers is that these core competencies have precipitated the sound financial and operational decisions made over the past several years, prior choices that allow us to deliver the same high quality services to our customers at a reduced cost,” Levinson said.

Important Upcoming Dates

September 12 and September 16, 2008: The City’s two public budget hearings are tentatively scheduled for 5:15 PM on both dates. The Fiscal Year 2009 millage and assessment rates will be officially adopted at this time.

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