TAB View of 2013 County Budget Proposal

In preparation for the first budget workshop of the 2013 cycle next week, the county has published their proposal. The workshop will be held on Tuesday, June 12 at 6:00pm in the county building at 301 N. Olive, WPB.

Unlike the last few years which Administrator Weisman has called “the most difficult budget year the county has faced”, bottoming valuations have created a less austere outlook. With the expectation of a barely perceptible 0.39% drop in property values reported by Property Appraiser Gary Nikolits, (See: Has free-falling Palm Beach County real estate finally hit bottom? ) the days of trying to save programs and spending levels by big hikes in the tax rate may be coming to an end.

The county proposal is therefore modest – a 0.4% hike in the county-wide millage rate to 4.7984 (up from 4.7815 last year), and a 0.6% or $3.9M hike of taxes collected. There are no projected cuts to “vocal constituent” programs like the nature centers, lifeguards or Palm Tran Connection, and even though the Sheriff is asking for an increase of $4.7M in ad-valorem revenue and $8.8M in appropriation, it is mitigated somewhat from a “return of excess fees” of $10M.

What had been expected to be a $15-30M problem this year, was positively affected by smaller than expected costs associated with FRS, and the use of “one-time” sources such as sweeping funds from Risk Management, capital project and Fleet Management reserves. Given TAB’s emphasis last year on using reserves to cover shortfalls in the difficult times, we are glad to see this development.

The entire proposal is good news, considering how hard everyone worked last year to bring the initial proposal (3.6% increase in rates) down to the final 0.6%. Although we think that it would be an appropriate gesture for the board to keep the millage flat (at a cost of the $3.9M hike), as they are doing with the Library and Fire/Rescue MSTUs, if this proposal was approved as submitted we would not object.

That said, there are some cautionary statements in the proposal. It is mentioned that 35 positions (half of them filled) will be eliminated without a service impact, by various good management practices and the expiration of grant funding of temporary positions. It is also stated that general county employees have not received a raise since 2008. There is also interest in some quarters to increase spending on some programs.

We ask that the commissioners not try to address these things in this budget year. The private economy has not yet fully recovered, even if property values are leveling off. Consequently, we call on TAB partners and supporters to stay vigilant, attend the budget meetings, and let your commissioners know you don’t support any increases above the submitted proposal.

For the Post’s view of the proposal, see: County budget proposal: less gloom and doom

TAB Opposes Referendum for Continued Levy of 0.25 mills for School Board

PRESS RELEASE


Date: Mon, 16 Aug 2010

For your information:

The following email was sent to the PBC Commissioners. PBC TAB (http://pbctab.org) is against the extension of the .25 mills tax. We are for decreasing government spending in all aspects of Palm Beach County government. Three of the PBC School Board members voted against the referendum – so this was by no means a unanimous position on behalf of the School Board. The BCC’s role in this, other than passing it through to the Supervisor of Elections, is unclear.


To: PBC Commissioners
Subject: Palm Beach County BCC Agenda Item 6A-1 Resolution regarding Referendum for continued levy of 0.25 mills for School Board of Palm Beach County
Date: Mon, 16 Aug 2010

Commissioners:

PBC TAB strongly objects to the actions of the Palm Beach County School Board in voting for the continuation of an annual levy of 0.25 mills for school operational purposes for the next four fiscal years beginning July 1, 2011 and ending June 30, 2015.

The annual levy of .25 mill was a tax scheduled to lapse next year, unless put to a referendum. The tax, if continued, would be expected to generate around $32 million per year for the next four years.

Palm Beach County School officials already expect to get $38 million from last week’s $26 billion jobs bill, which they plan to apply to the 2011-2012 school year.
These are difficult economic times for Palm Beach County taxpayers. The next few years are expected to be equally difficult. Government needs to be cutting deeply and the Palm Beach County School Board is no exception. If it is possible for you, the Board of County Commissioners, to stop the referendum from going on the ballot, please vote NO.
Let this tax expire.

References:
Palm Beach County School Board Tentative Budget
Sun-Sentinel Article on Florida Federal Aid