Palm Beach County To Set TRIM Tax Rate For Budget July 12

The Palm Beach County Commission will set its Truth in Millage (TRIM) rate for its 2016-17 budget of over $1.2 billion on Tuesday, July 12.

The proposed operating countywide property tax rate is set to remain the same at 4.7815 mills, with voter-approved debt service going down slightly from 0.1462 mills in 2016 to 0.1330 mills in 2017.

Due to increased property values, the same proposed rate will generate $56.8 million more in property taxes, or 7.8 percent more than the current year, for a total of $786.7 million.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office is allocated 47.9 percent of the budget, or $594,447,569, with other constitutional officers receiving 4.7 percent or $58 million.

County departments would receive 25.6 percent, or $318 million, with almost $69 million (5.5 percent) going to debt service, $103 million (8.3 percent) to capital and non-departmental budgets, and almost $100 million to reserves.

The county library would receive about $52 million in ad valorem taxes, compared with $49 million in the current year. The Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue Municipal Services Tax Unit would receive almost $230 million, compared with almost $215 million in the current year.

The budget represents an $8.1 million or 2.5 percent increase in countywide property tax-funded projects. Including $4.1 million for repair and replacement costs being transferred from the operating budget to capital project funds, the total spending for county departments increased $12.2 million, or 3.8 percent. The increase for the PBSO budget is $27.9 million or 5.7 percent.

Major factors affecting the general fund budget include personal service costs in a cost-of-living increase of 3 percent totaling $6.3 million, health insurance costs at $2.3 million and retirement contributions at $4.1 million.

The budget includes the addition of 61 net new county positions, 24 of which are funded by ad valorem taxes, and 37 non-county ad valorem positions in airports, water utilities, fire-rescue, building, fleet management and the library.

New capital funding is proposed at $31.9 million, which does not include projects to be financed with the 1-cent sales tax increase heading to the ballot for voter approval in November.

In order to submit a budget that maintained the existing tax rate, many department requests were not included in the proposed budget, according to staff reports. It includes a full funding request for reentry and drug court programs, as well as supplemental funding for homelessness.

Reserves would be increased from $85 million to $99.5 million, or 8 percent of the gross general fund, in compliance with current county policy and with outside recommendations in order to maintain the county’s AAA bond rating.

The first public hearing on the budget is set for Sept. 6 at 6 p.m., with the second public hearing on Sept. 19 at 6 p.m.