The City held a Special City Commission Meeting on Tuesday, July 26, in which the Commission adopted the Fiscal Year 2012 Business Plan and discussed a sound financial strategy to meet economic challenges. The 2012 Business Plan outlines numerous initiatives to help meet the community's needs despite pressing economic challenges, such as foreclosures, unemployment and the City’s receding population growth, which has resulted in a declining property tax base.
To facilitate public discussion and help secure the City's long-term financial viability, the Commission proposed a millage rate of $4.5737, which is 4.1% above the rolled back rate of $4.3939. The impact to the average long-time homesteaded single-family homeowner would be $48.33 in additional property taxes to the City. A non-homesteaded condominium owner would pay $11.24 less in property taxes.
The Commission requested staff to recommend specific projects that would benefit from the funds collected from the proposed incremental taxes and how the increase could help upgrade and enhance the City. The Commission also encouraged residents to provide feedback on the proposed millage rate in advance of the first public budget hearing on September 12. Residents can offer comments and input via the City’s online Help Desk at www.coralsprings.org/help. The proposed millage rate can be adjusted downward and will be finalized and adopted at the September 12 meeting.
The Commission also established the voter-approved debt service millage rate of $0.2915, as required by the 2006 public safety bond covenants. The annual solid waste special assessment will drop this year from $250.20 to $233.63. Annual fire assessment fees will go up from $114.84 to $128.77 for single-family homeowners and $138.55 to $143.94 for multi-family homes.
City Undertakes Cost-Cutting Measures
To balance the impact to residents, the City is also controlling expenses. During the coming year, negotiations concerning police pension reform will continue. In addition, the City's workforce will decrease by as many as five employees due to attrition and restructuring. The City will also use $1.25 million in undesignated Debt Service Fund balance to pay the annual debt service on four revenue bonds. The City will also attract new businesses and residents by allocating $3.5 million in undesignated fund balances to apply toward fighting crime, grime, and decline. Finally, subject to negotiations, employees will receive a one-time four percent (4%) performance bonus rather than a salary increase. This structural change in the employee compensation system will offset the use of one-time reserves by ensuring future expenditures are reduced by a like amount.
“As always, our most important goal is to continue to meet the service levels our community expects from the City of Coral Springs,” City Manager Erdal Donmez said.
The community has indicated that the City is successful in achieving this goal based on the results from a residential survey conducted in early 2011. Survey results indicated that the City of Coral Springs rated at or above the U.S. and Florida averages in all 47 areas that were assessed. Seventy-nine percent (79%) of the residents surveyed were satisfied (ratings of 4 or 5 on a 5-point scale) with the overall quality of City services compared to a national average of just 56% and a Florida average of 60%.
New Initiatives Will Benefit Community
At the meeting, City staff also presented City Commissioners with an outline of 31 potential new Business Plan initiatives in addition to 29 ongoing initiatives. These allow the City to focus its efforts and sharply limited resources in four priority areas: community aesthetics, public safety, educational excellence and local business vitality.
Proposed initiatives include:
· To encourage business development and redevelopment we will continue the successful CSBizAssist, Buy Coral Springs Campaign, commercial façade grants, and street indexing sign initiatives. The City will also work closely with the Economic Development Foundation, Community Redevelopment Agency, Chamber of Commerce, and the Retail Coalition to diversify the tax base and absorb vacant commercial space. Additionally, the City will fully fund economic development activity because we recognize its importance to the long-term viability of our community.
· The City will continue to support educational excellence by fostering the alliance with Broward College and ensuring the Charter School remains highly rated.
· In addition, as part of a Community Pride initiative, the City developed a multi-year plan that allowed for repairs and renovations to City facilities, rights-of-ways, parks and medians in fiscal year 2011. These projects will continue in 2012, including pressure cleaning of buildings, resurfacing and maintaining City roads and replacement of roofs at various City facilities, and upkeep of athletic fields and pools.
· The City will revitalize key elements of our community's infrastructure, in part by utilizing proceeds from the low-interest Economic Recovery Zone Redevelopment Bond. Projects include improving the appearance, safety, and ease of movement in Mullins Park, and also replacing and/or renovating the Tackle Football, Flag Football and Soccer buildings. Construction of the new Fire Station 71 will begin in early 2012. Additionally, infrastructure improvements slated as part of the Downtown Development plan-including burying power lines, installing turn lanes, erecting mast arms, and installing sidewalks-will also begin.
· Maintaining a safe community remains a top priority. Not only will the high-visibility "Make a Call, Make a Difference" campaign continue to encourage residents to report suspicious activity, but we will make every effort to involve concerned citizens in the safety of their neighborhoods by creating web-based reporting mechanisms. An initiative to improve streetlights will also enhance neighborhood safety.
· Finally, we will continue to develop innovative methods to make participation in local government possible for all residents. The City will provide closed captioning to make CityTV programming accessible to the hearing impaired. In addition, the Code Ranger program will continue and we will expand the park citizen-volunteer program.
Additional City initiatives for the next fiscal year will focus on continued improvement of City workforce productivity and continued investment in technology and capital improvements. For more information on these and other initiatives in the City’s proposed 2012 Business Plan, visit www.coralsprings.org.