Still no budget for Broward County
Stuck in a stalemate position, Broward commissioners still can’t finalize a budget, even at the potential risk of losing $80 million dollars. As part of an annual process, Broward Commissioners are required to pass a budget annually in September to start on Oct. 1, the official beginning of the new fiscal year. However, Oct. 1 has come and gone, and even a third public budget hearing on Oct. 5 did not lead to a passed budget. The problem is that with only eight commissioners, there is no tie-breaking vote and four commissioners each support and oppose the current budget, haggling over a tax increase.
Commissioners John Rodstrom, Lois Wexler, Stacy Ritter and Mayor Ken Keechl refuse to pass a budget that has any tax increase set for residents. County administrator Bertha Henry has been sent back to the drawing boards yet again to find more cuts to prevent a tax increase despite the slashing done to services provided to residents.
Residents came out to plead with commissioners not to increase property taxes due to the current economic climate.
“We have empty condo buildings where people are not paying, have walked away and left their house, “ said Charlotte Greenbarg. “Life as we know it will not be the same for a long time and the best thing is not to raise taxes at all.”
Robert Walsh of Fort Lauderdale lambasted the commission for considering it, asking what they did with the money from during the boom years, though he said he agreed with the 25 cent raise on bus fares.
According to documents on Broward.org, residents are currently looking at 5.3889 mills, or $5.39 per $1,000 in value. Last year’s was 4.889 mills, and the tax rates have been lowered 12 years running. Commissioner Kristen Jacobs wants the tax increase to avoid additional cuts to the services, but commissioners abruptly ended the meeting Tuesday night once it was clear there was a tie vote and will be coming back on Tuesday, Oct. 11 to try to pass the budget again.
Problems crop because Henry must send the tax rate to the property appraiser’s office by Friday Oct. 8 to ensure the information is on the tax bill, and the county will miss that deadline.
Budget documents can be found here: http://www.broward.org/Budget/Pages/Default.aspx.
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