By Tim Pallesen
Delray Beach commissioners must cut $4 million from a $97 million budget proposal to avoid raising the city’s current property tax rate.
City Manager David Harden presented his proposal to the city commission July 17, recommending that $1.6 million be taken from the city’s reserves to cover a portion of the revenue shortfall.
The city’s current tax rate of $7.19 per $1,000 of assessed value equals a $7,190 city tax bill for the owner of a home valued at $1 million after exemptions.
Commissioners have workshops in August to decide whether to cut services, raise fees or take more money from reserves to avoid a tax rate increase.
An attempt to cover the $4 million shortfall by approving a new fire service fee failed by a 2-2 vote at a July 31 budget workshop.
Mayor Woodie McDuffie and Commissioner Adam Frankel supported an annual $85 fire fee for every homeowner in the city, but commissioners Al Jacquet and Angeleta Gray opposed it. Commissioner Tom Carney was absent.
The added revenue from the fire fee would raise $4.6 million and allow the city to lower its current tax rate to $7.09 per $1,000 of taxable property.
McDuffie, Frankel and Harden encouraged Jacquet and Gray to say where they think the budget can be cut to avoid a tax increase.
Jacquet suggested cutting some of the city’s costs for special events. Gray asked Harden to explore incentives to encourage some city employees to retire early.
But neither savings is expected to have a significant impact.
The city’s tax rate would have to be raised to $7.69 per $1,000 of taxable property if commissioners don’t make the $4 million in cuts.
Commissioners were scheduled to decide on a preliminary tax rate at an Aug. 3 meeting.
A first public hearing on the city budget will be at 7 p.m. Sept. 4. Commissioners will set next year’s final tax rate after a second public hearing at 7 p.m. Sept. 20.