By Christopher J. Russo, Former City Manager
(Saturday, October 1, 2016) – The 2016-17 Fiscal Year Budget represents the 20th Anniversary of our City and the Budget process. We have come a long way from that first Budget consisting of a few pages of financial data primarily focused on the transfer of revenues from the County to the City. Our total assessed value was 1.2 billion dollars. Today, on this anniversary, the City has exceeded 10.1 billion dollars in assessed value while reducing the millage rate for the fifth year in a row. We have grown in other ways too. Once we were known as a retirement bedroom community with inexpensive motels. We are now home for a burgeoning youth population and families. This Budget is representative of the needs of all residents and families in our City on this 20th Anniversary.
Again this year, the Budget provides for a reduction of the property tax rate, resulting in a millage rate of 2.4 per $1,000 of assessed value. This is achievable due to the 16.31% increase in our taxable value of all property within the City. The City Commission decided on this tax rate reduction while maintaining sufficient funding to continue to improve our service delivery and complete our capital projects.
The operating costs for the 2016-2017 fiscal year will see the smallest increase in many years, 2.1%. This is due to the staffing levels reaching a plateau as opposed to past years where we have been growing staff, upgraded systems and software, and made significant equipment purchases and improvements to properly handle the influx of families, development, and the goal of world class services and maintenance. I’m sure there will be a need for some adjustments along the way over the next several years as we complete capital projects, open all our Parks and look to fine tune and possibly add programming from various sources, especially the soon to be completed Cultural Master Plan Study.
The 2016-17 Fiscal Year Budget is a financial plan that will continue to provide our residents, families, and guests with a full scope of high quality municipal services, programs, special events, and safety that enhances life in our City. It also provides the required resources for us to complete all the great parks, facilities, infrastructure, and other amenities that make our community so desirable.
I would like to thank the Mayor and Commissioners for their vision and direction through this process and all the hard work of our department heads and staff. With the effective work of our Finance Department and that of each department, the City is operating with a clear plan of maintaining fiscal strength and stability. This budget will enable the City of Sunny Isles Beach to continue its quality of life as a thriving and safe community that cherishes its location, unites in its diversity and evolves to meet the continuous challenges that success brings.