Deerfield Set to Do More with Less in 2013
With the city fully developed, and even opportunities for redevelopment in short supply, number crunchers are turning to user fees in lieu of growth, to balance the budget in 2013. To shore up the $132.9 million spending plan, the highlights of which were reviewed at recent city meetings, they are looking to higher fees for permits and licenses; higher user fees -- even an increase in parking meter revenues -- to supplement flat property taxes and declining sales and phone tax revenues.
At recent district and commission meetings, highlights have included the merger of police and the Broward Sheriff’s Office. It produced what finance director Hugh Dunkley called “a seismic shift” and is reflected in a final proposed budget that boosts spending 2.31 percent – with no increase in fire assessment fees or tax rate.
That $998.55 per person expenditure would rank Deerfield Beach lower than either Pompano Beach to the south or Boca Raton to the north, which weighed in at $1,062 and $1,278 per person respectively. It would mean property taxes would increase.375 percent to $26.710 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. Sales and use tax, however, would decline 7.7 percent. The communication service tax on voice, data, audio, video, or any other information or signals, transmitted by any medium would drop 5.1 percent and intergovernmental fees would rise 1.8 percent.
“We are obviously doing more with less,” said Dunkley.
To do that, the city plans to rely on user fees. More parking meters would boost parking meter revenues from $1.2 million to $1.4 million; other parking fines would push revenues from $165,000 to $210,000 while boat ramp fees would increase from $5,000 to $9,000.
Layoffs in past years in the solid waste division would put revenues ahead of expenditures for the first time in history next year and staff is so lean in grounds maintenance that, as Hanson pointed out, it would take one employee 44 weeks straight just to trim the trees on the city’s 318 acres of public land.
If adopted without change, the proposed budget would keep the operating milage rate to 5.1856. Because of a slight increase in property values, however, property tax revenue would an increase of .96 percent over the rolled back rate – the rate at which revenues to the city would remain flat -- of 5.1365 mils. The city has set a final public hearing for the September 18 meeting at 7 p.m., after which the final budget is set to be adopted.