RPB Council Gives First OK To $38.16 Million Budget

In a special meeting on Thursday, Sept. 8, the Royal Palm Beach Village Council gave preliminary approval to its 2016-17 budget of $38.16 million with a property tax rate of 1.92 mills.

Of the total budget, the general fund represents 60 percent, capital projects 35 percent, reserves 3 percent and stormwater utilities 2 percent.

Finance Director Stanley Hochman said property values were up 9.8 percent to almost $2.5 billion, compared with the current year at $2.282 billion, an increase of about $220 million.

“This was a good year for the village,” Hochman said.

Although the tax rate remained the same, the increase in property values brought in more money, which allowed for the addition of four positions in public works, parks and recreation, the cultural center and information systems.

Transfers in and out were eliminated, and the general fund will operate solely on its own income. All strategic plan initiatives will be implemented.

The impact of the proposed tax rate of $1.92 per $1,000 of assessed valuation on a homesteaded residence valued at $190,000 will be $269 in village taxes.

General fund operating revenues decreased by 5.65 percent, and operating expenditures increased by 5.53 percent.

The general fund revenue of almost $23 million will draw 20 percent from property taxes, 26 percent from other taxes and fees, 15 percent from licenses and permits, 18 percent from intergovernmental revenue, 2 percent from charges for services, 1 percent from fines, 5 percent from miscellaneous revenue and 13 percent from the current year fund balance.

Expenditures will include 42 percent for personal services; 40 percent for contractual services, primarily for the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office contract; 14 percent for other charges and services; and 4 percent for commodities.

Merit pay increases are planned at an average of 3.5 percent for all employees, a cost-of-living adjustment of 1 percent and a medical insurance adjustment estimated at 6 percent.

The stormwater utility fund revenue, which will go toward canal rehabilitation, will be $868,338.

The general fund capital improvement projects account for about $14.3 million. Of that, 55 percent will go to the general fund, 37 percent to the impact fee fund and 8 percent to the reserves.

Mayor Fred Pinto asked what the village’s highest property valuation was before the recent recession, and Hochman said it was about $2.8 billion. “We lost a ton of value,” Hochman said.

“So, if the trend continues the way it is now, we probably will surpass that next year?” Pinto asked.

Hochman answered that the trend has been almost 10 percent per year for the past few years.

Councilman David Swift made a motion to approve the tax rate of 1.92 mills, which carried 5-0.

Vice Mayor Jeff Hmara made a motion to approve the 2016-17 budget, which also carried 5-0.

The second hearing and final approval of the budget was scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 15.