The City held a public Financial Strategy Forum on Tuesday, June 16 that allowed residents to provide input on the 2010 financial plan in an effort to maintain service levels despite the punishing conditions of the current economic recession.
As part of a comprehensive strategy to counter the impact of this recession and preserve service levels throughout the community, while ensuring the City’s continued long-range financial solvency for the benefit of residents and businesses, the City also declared Financial Urgency under Florida State Statutes.
“The City took this good faith preventive measure to maintain municipal service levels for our customers during these trying times. A long-term view has always been at the core of the City’s financial planning process. We are acting today to ensure continued financial viability, helping us to sustain high levels of service to our community well into the future,” City Manager Michael S. Levinson said.
“Though action is urgently needed, we want to assure our residents that this is not a financial emergency. It is a statutory process to enable us to fully implement our financial strategy on a timely basis to keep us on solid ground,” Levinson added.
The financial strategy the City presented is based on a three-pronged approach to cutting the $10.5 million budget deficit while holding service levels constant. It includes a one-year wage freeze for all City employees, strategic deployment of $14 million of reserve funds over the next three years, and the adoption of the property tax rolled-back rate pursuant to State Statutes governing property tax reform. Declaring Financial Urgency as part of this overall strategy enables the City to expedite good faith negotiations with the police bargaining units.
Adopting the property tax rolled-back rate will allow the City to collect the same property tax revenue next fiscal year as this fiscal year, bringing the operating millage back to roughly the 2007 rate. However, many residents will actually pay less than in the previous year because their property values will have decreased. Even by adopting the rolled-back rate, which will result in a 16 percent increase in the operating millage rate, Coral Springs will still have the lowest operating millage rate among surrounding municipalities with greater than 70,000 residents.
Following this Forum, the City will hold its first Business Planning Workshop on Tuesday, July 21 and the second Business Planning Workshop on Tuesday, July 28. These will be followed by two public budget hearings on Monday, September 14 and Monday, September 21. Residents can visit www.coralsprings.org for more information.