The City held a Fiscal Year 2010 Business Planning Workshop and Special City Commission Meeting on Tuesday, July 28. The 2010 Business Plan focuses on combating the effects of the global recession to maintain current service levels and ensure the community’s continued long-term financial stability.
The City’s strategy for the next fiscal year centers on a three-pronged approach to cutting a $10.5 million deficit while still maintaining high-quality service delivery. The strategy includes a one-year wage freeze for all City employees; judicious use of $14.5 million from unrestricted reserve funds during the next three years; and adoption of a portion of the property tax rolled-back rate pursuant to State Statutes.
Adopting the rolled-back rate allows the City to collect the same property tax revenue next fiscal year as this fiscal year. Even at this rate, many residents will pay less than in previous years because of decreasing property values. The adoption of the rolled-back rate essentially increases the City’s tax rate to the same level it held for 14 years with the exception of the last and current fiscal years. However, Coral Springs will still have the lowest operating millage rate among municipalities in Broward County serving more than 70,000 residents.
“Despite the unprecedented nature of the current economic recession, we must continue to meet the service needs of our community,” City Manager Michael S. Levinson said. “That goal is the driving force behind the solid, balanced 2010 business plan we are presenting today, which lays a firm foundation for our community’s continued financial stability going forward.”
At the meeting, Levinson and City Staff also presented City Commissioners with an outline of nearly 40 potential new Business Plan initiatives, which allow the City to focus its efforts and sharply limited resources in three priority areas: aesthetics, public safety and education. Proposed initiatives include:
· A continuation of the important initiatives from fiscal year 2009 that address the expressed needs of families and business owners coping with financial challenges. The City will continue to offer foreclosure assistance through phase II of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, which would provide additional federal grant assistance to low- and moderate-income potential homeowners. As part of its Business Sustainability initiative, the City will continue its CSBizAssist program in partnership with the Economic Development Foundation to help local businesses weather the current economic crisis. As a component of CSBizAssist, the goal of the Buy Coral Springs campaign is to support local businesses, strengthen the City’s diverse economic base, and build a strong sense of community.
· To further assist the local business community, the City is instituting a Business Tax Amnesty, which will enable first-time applicants to avoid penalties for operating businesses prior to October 1, 2009 without a license. Licensing these additional businesses will also result in a more accurate database of community businesses to ensure they are operating in accordance with health and safety code.
· The City’s Code Enforcement Division has approximately 466 cases that have outstanding liens on properties. A Code Enforcement Lien Reduction initiative will lay out a strategy for determining the reduction of the lien, time frame for the amnesty program and the process for settling the liens.
· To help maintain community aesthetics, as part of a Code Enforcement Ranger Program, the City’s Code Enforcement Division will train citizen volunteers on the basics of the City’s code enforcement process and ordinances. This partnership will help maintain the attractive look of the City and enable Code Officers to spend more time on complex cases. In addition, as part of a Community Pride initiative, during the coming fiscal year staff will do a thorough evaluation of all the City’s parks, rights of way and buildings. The City will then prepare a multi-year plan that allows for repairs and renovations to begin in fiscal year 2011.
· A number of 2010 proposed initiatives focus on enhancing public safety, including Red Light and Security Camera Pilot, the goal of which is increased safety at major intersections by using red light cameras for law enforcement and traffic management purposes. The Safe Driving initiative will promote overall safe driving habits and reducing the speed of vehicles on major roads and neighborhood streets, while an Educational Campaign to Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse will target the dangers of illicit prescription drugs. Additional initiatives cover the renovation of the Coporate Park fire station (Station 71), completion of Station 80 and the Public Safety Building improvements.
· In fiscal year 2009, the City implemented a Sustainability Index and formed the Green Environmentally Conscious Organization (GECO) to focus on ways to make the workforce more “green.” Next year, as part of various Sustainability Initiatives, the focus will shift to providing residents with information about opportunities to participate in sustainable practices.
· The Coral Springs College and University Partnership (CSCUP), established five years ago, has shown tremendous growth. Due to this impressive performance, the Broward College Alliance seeks a permanent presence for the college within the CRA area. With the addition of programs supporting the targeted industries of medical, information technology, and distribution and logistics, student enrollment should significantly increase.
Additional City initiatives for the next fiscal year will focus on continued improvement of City workforce productivity and continued investment in capital improvements. For more information on these initiatives and the City’s proposed 2010 Business Plan, visit www.coralsprings.org.