Proposed RPB Budget Leaves Tax Rate Unchanged

Royal Palm Beach staff presented their proposed budget to the Royal Palm Beach Village Council on Tuesday. The proposed budget keeps the current property tax rate of 1.92 mills unchanged.

At the rate of 1.92 mills per $1,000 of taxable value, a Royal Palm Beach taxpayer with a property valued at $175,000, less a $50,000 homestead exemption, would pay $240 in taxes to the village next year.

Village Manager Ray Liggins said that this year is the first time in several years that property values in Royal Palm Beach have increased. According to the Property Appraiser’s Office, the village’s gross taxable value rose from $1.80 billion to $1.87 billion over the past year.

“It would appear the negative side of this revenue is over and should continue to rise in future years,” Liggins said, adding that most other major revenues, including state shared revenues, are anticipated to increase slowly.

Liggins added that it was not necessary to tap into the $5.5 million tax rate stabilization fund that had been authorized by the council earlier this year to balance the budget.

The budget increases the level of service in safety with the addition of a motorcycle patrol unit to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office District 9 substation — an initiative requested by Capt. Paul Miles. The budget also increases recreation services with the opening of Royal Palm Beach Commons Park and all the programming planned for that facility.

Finance Director Stan Hochman said the total budget proposed is $32.5 million, with 62 percent of that being in the general operating budget, 21 percent in the general capital budget, 10 percent in reserves, 5 percent in debt service and 2 percent in the stormwater utility budget.

“This year the economy is rebounding,” Hochman said. “For the first time in six years, our property values are up.”

Total revenues have increased by $988,000, while total operating expenses increased by $924,205, he said.

The general fund revenue summary is $22.59 million, with miscellaneous taxes and fees accounting for 24 percent, property taxes 16 percent, licenses and permits 13 percent, intergovernmental revenues 15 percent, charges for services 2 percent, fines and forfeitures 1 percent, miscellaneous revenues 5 percent, current year fund balance 11 percent, and transfers in 13 percent.

For expenditures, personal services account for 36 percent and contractual services 37 percent, which is primarily the PBSO contract.

“We’re looking here at 73 percent personal services,” Hochman said.

Other charges and services make up 13 percent, commodities 3 percent, debt service 7 percent and transfers out 4 percent.

Merit raises are programmed at an average of 2 percent for all employees, with a cost-of-living adjustment of 1.8 percent.

For position additions and deletions, Hochman said Public Works is deleting one foreman while Parks & Recreation is adding two part-time building attendants, six part-time summer interns and one part-time program coordinator, and deleting three aerobics instructors.

In the newly created stormwater utility fund, 100 percent of the $710,000 in revenue will come from the new stormwater utility fee, Hochman said.

The capital improvement fund of $10.17 million includes 43 percent for recreation improvements, 19 percent for impact fees, 2 percent for a recreation facilities fund, 3 percent for a beautification fund and 33 percent for reserves.

The council will discuss the budget at its July 18 meeting. Public hearings are scheduled for Sept. 3 and Sept. 19.