Budget Message Fiscal Year 2023-2024 Office of the City Manager

Budget Message for the 2023-2024 Fiscal Year

By Stan Morris, City Manager

In accordance with article IV Section 4.5 of the charter of the City of Sunny Isles Beach, I am pleased to present to you the proposed comprehensive budget and the 5-year Capital Improvement Program for FY 2023-2024.

The budget presented here is the culmination of many months of collaboration between the City Commission, Administration, and the residents at an unprecedented level.  Working first with our Commission to establish the vision for the upcoming year, working closely with our departments to plan the needs to accomplish that vision, and finally, refining that vision to meet the financial limitations that were the overarching goal of the elected body and the residents.

Our tax base saw an increase in value of $2.2 billion from last year, prompting the majority of the Commission to set a goal to reduce the millage rate from 2.0 to 1.9 mils per $1,000 of assessed value.  This has resulted in an unprecedented eleventh year that our City has lowered the tax rate. With many necessary operating expenses continuing to rise such as insurance costs, supplies, and contracted services, this reduction would require us to prioritize needs over wants. We have established a high standard of services for our residents of which we do not intend to compromise. However, some services have been identified as unessential.

As established by the Commission, Public Safety remains an area of utmost importance. In fact, this budget will add two police officers to increase the patrol unit as well as two police officers and a part-time administrative position to establish a Red-Light Camera program.  Pedestrian safety continues to be a priority and this program will improve our ability to enforce red light infractions at all times. A focus on safety is also seen in other areas of the budget. For example, in our Streets Fund, $231,000 was included to install speed humps throughout the interior roads of our city as well as $375,000 to refurbish the heavily used North Bay Road Pedestrian Bridge.

With legislative changes on the horizon, the Building Department is another area in which we must invest to maintain, and improve, our quality of service, especially as it relates to the high-rise community. One part-time and four full-time positions were added to the department to meet this high demand.

Other priorities include programming for our seniors and teens while special events have been streamlined to focus on quality and not quantity.  Future planning will be a significant task for the city this year.  Last year we started two projects that will continue this year as they relate to the future of Sunny Isles Beach.

First is the Parks and Recreation Master Plan that will be finalized this fall with budgeting and planning of projects to commence this year. An assigned reserve fund has been set aside in the amount of $6,267,400 to fund the beginning phases of the priorities identified.

Second is the update to our Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Code. An in-depth review was completed this year and necessary amendments have been identified. We have budgeted funds in our Planning and Zoning Department to engage our Commission and residents to develop the long-term vision for the west side of Collins Avenue.

With the future in mind, we have included $10M in our Capital Improvement Program (CIP) Fund to allocate for potential land purchases. There are several parcels that have been identified for possible future growth for the city.  Any such forward-looking purchases require approval from the City Commission.  This amount is set aside should the Commission direct and approve a purchase. The CIP also includes high priority projects to resolve flooding throughout the city which include the Central Island Drainage Project at $25M and the Golden Shores Pump Station Project at $5.8M.

We are still faced with significant economic issues beyond our control such as, rising costs of ongoing construction and fuel costs, supply chain issues, and impacts to staffing due to the increased cost of living. Our Commission has expressed lofty goals to achieve in the next few years. These, coupled with a millage rate reduction, required us to look hard at what is necessary and what we could do without in this budget.

General Fund

As stated, the Budget provides for a reduction in the property tax rate, reflecting a millage rate of 1.9 mils per $1,000 of assessed value. This is achievable due to a 17.25% increase in the taxable value of all property within the City.

It is important to note that this includes $162 million of property value decrease due to reassessments, $1.7 billion increase of property values and over $656 million of new construction added to the tax rolls in our city this year.

The revenue for the fiscal year 2023-2024 in the General Fund is $48,524,769, which represents an increase of $625,211, or 1.3%, from the fiscal year 2022-2023 adopted budget.

The changes in various revenue categories are outlined below:

Property tax revenues reflect an increase of $2,637,564 due to the increase in property values. The City’s assessed value as reported by the Property Appraiser is $15,968,407,601, which is a $2,186,612,561 increase over 2022-2023. The recent history of the City’s taxable values is provided below:

Franchise fees are estimated to increase by $605,000. The City entered into a franchise agreement with Florida Power & Light effective as of May 2020. Utility tax revenues are also estimated to increase by $600,000.  These higher proposed revenues are due to new construction being added to the tax roll. Communications Services Tax revenues are expected to increase by $98,521. Revenues from licenses/permits are expected to decrease by $101,560 primarily related to a reduction in lien letter requests. Intergovernmental revenues are expected to increase over the prior year by $339,377 primarily due to the state revenue sharing and local government half-cent sales taxes. Charges for services are expected to increase by $170,616 over the prior year. This is primarily due to increases in administrative charges of $220,815, recreational programs of $137,000, Police overtime reimbursements from the federal government of $6,000, which are offset by a reduction in parking revenues of $193,199 due to the closure of several city-owned parking locations in anticipation of the parking area under the William Lehman Causeway being transformed into an urban park.

Fines and forfeitures are estimated to decrease by $12,000 due to a reduction in code compliance citations of $100,000 offset by an increase in parking fines of $88,000. Miscellaneous revenues are expected to increase by $848,000 primarily due to investment interest earnings. Transfers In are estimated to decrease by $4,560,307 due to the funds received from the American Rescue Plan Act being spent for the provision of governmental services in fiscal year 2022-2023.

The proposed General Fund budget expenditures (not including transfers out to other funds) increased to $49,548,578, which represents an increase of $5,087,340, or 11.4%, from fiscal year 2022-2023.

Expenditures have increased primarily due to: (1) additional positions ($535,660), compensation adjustments for Police raises, cost of living and merit increases ($927,518), overtime ($193,500), FICA ($58,487), retirement system contributions ($1,085,380), and health and other insurances ($75,246), (2) additional departmental needs for Public Safety, Facility repairs & maintenance and Cultural & Community Services ($2,478,510) (3) an increase in capital outlay needs ($927,277), offset by (4) a reduction in debt payments due to the payoff of a revenue bond and lower principal payments (-$1,109,738), and a reduction in other disbursements for donations and election expenses (-$84,500). In addition, as stated earlier, $2,617,400 has been assigned in fund balance pending the completion of the parks and recreation master plan.

Street Maintenance & Construction Fund

Major revenue sources in the Street Maintenance and Construction Fund include intergovernmental revenues such as State Revenue Sharing, Transportation Surtax, and Local Option Fuel Tax. This fund was developed for the benefit of segregating the uses of this revenue source. The fund accounts for the costs related to transportation, street construction and maintenance programs.  As mentioned, pedestrian safety is a priority and there are funds budgeted here to make infrastructure improvements to address that goal. The total budget is $4,386,665.

Building Fund

Major revenue sources in the Building Fund include fees generated from building permits and inspections. This fund was developed for the benefit of segregating the uses of this revenue source. This fund accounts for the costs related to the administration and enforcement of the Building Code. This coming year, we are gearing up for the new legislation recently passed, Senate Bill 4-D, requiring proactive milestone inspections of condominiums. Revenues, not including appropriated fund balance, are $3,431,500, a decrease of $167,262 from the prior year, and expenditures are $7,514,310, an increase of $2,261,351 from the prior year. The excess expenditures over revenues this fiscal year are funded by the carryover (fund balance) of the previous year’s revenues.

Public Art Trust Fund

This fund was created in 2014-2015 for the benefit of segregating the use of Public Art Trust Fund revenues to purchase and maintain art within the City. The total budget is $1,392,940, a decrease of $24,947 from the prior year. The Public Art Program contains a Five-Year Strategic Work Plan with one of the first projects involving a meditation garden located in the western area of Town Center Park. This project is fully funded for, and construction is underway with completion expected this upcoming fiscal year.

Sunny Spaces was developed in celebration of the City’s 25th Anniversary and under the initiative of the Public Art Program. The Sunny Spaces Art Contest launched in May 2022 and received over 78 eligible submissions from 59 different artists. The community was asked to paint, or hand draw an original piece incorporating the theme of a sun. Up to 25 submissions have been recreated as a public art installation within the City. Sunny Spaces aims to bring the community together through the visual arts by co-creating artistic spaces curated by our residents. The goal is to shed light on our talented artists while increasing accessibility to the arts in our community. Sunny Spaces aspires to be the premier showcase of local art for our community. Sunny Spaces and Gateway Artway will be unveiled in Winter 2023 and will be publicly accessible for residents and visitors to enjoy, including art activations at city events.

American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 Fund

This fund was created to segregate fiscal recovery funds as a result of the United States Congress passing the American Rescue Plan Act (“ARPA”). It was signed into law creating the Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund for the purpose of providing funds to local governments in order to facilitate the ongoing recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic (“fiscal recovery funds”). ARPA allocated over $7 billion for making payments to metropolitan cities.

The City entered into an agreement in September 2021 with the State of Florida, Division of Emergency Management as a non-entitlement unit to receive its allocation of $10,920,613 from the state. The first half of the allocation was received in October 2021 and the second half was received in August 2022. Allocated funds up to $10,020,613 have already been utilized as of 2022-2023 for the provision of government services and COVID-19 personal protective equipment (PPE) and supplies. The remaining funds will be utilized for necessary investments in water and sewer infrastructure. This Fund remains active with $900,000 dedicated to the Central Island Drainage Project.

Enterprise Funds

The City has a Stormwater Operating Fund and a Stormwater Capital Projects Fund. The Stormwater Operating Fund is primarily self-supporting and has budgeted revenues of $1,020,000, which is slightly higher by $18,000 than the prior year. This fund incurs costs to ensure compliance with the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit.

Stormwater capital projects are funded by the Local Option Fuel Tax, and transfers in from the Stormwater Operating Fund, as available. Accumulated fund balance (carryover) will be utilized for drainage. The City is finalizing the design for bidding of the Central Island Drainage Project to improve its stormwater pumping capacity.

Capital Improvement Program

The Capital Improvement Program concentrates on the development of parks, infrastructure, and rehabilitation of our facilities including major road resurfacing, sidewalk improvements, and pedestrian safety. A capital improvement project generally exceeds $25,000 and has a useful life of five years or more. The City has been successful in leveraging City dollars to obtain grant awards and legislative appropriations for some capital projects and will continue to seek these where possible.

The City has one Capital Projects Fund, the Capital Improvement Program Fund, which is funded by a transfer from the General Fund, grants, impact fees, other development fees and contributions/donations.

The capital projects, which total $49,695,973 (including $13,708,620 carryover from the 2022- 2023 fiscal year), are recommended, and funded by the Capital Improvement Program Fund. In addition, $3,650,000 has been assigned in fund balance pending the completion of the parks and recreation master plan.  All of the capital improvement projects requested and proposed for this year are fully detailed in our proposed Five-Year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) located in the CIP section of this document. Please note that many capital projects are multi-year endeavors.


In conclusion, our 2023-2024 Fiscal Year Budget is one that is presented with transparency and represents our meetings with elected officials both individually and as a group, as well as meeting with members of the public to ensure that their needs and requests were heard. Our goal is to maintain fiscal responsibility while providing the utmost level of high-quality services our residents and visitors have come to expect. This work could not have been accomplished without the input and vision of the Mayor, Vice Mayor and Commissioners, the direction of our Finance Director, Tiffany Neely and the Finance Department team, and our Department Directors. On behalf of Deputy City Manager Susan Simpson, and Assistant City Manager Audra Curts-Whann, we express our sincere thanks and gratitude.


Respectfully submitted,

Stan Morris

City Manager