RPB Council Holds Budget Hearing With Final Vote Next Week

The Royal Palm Beach Village Council held its first formal public budget hearing on Thursday, Sept. 5, voting unanimously to adopt the tentative budget put together by village staff and reviewed by the council over the summer. A final vote on the budget is set for Thursday, Sept. 19.

Royal Palm Beach Finance Director Stanley Hochman gave a presentation summarizing the expenses and revenue in the proposed budget. The total budget for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1 is $45.1 million, which breaks down into 56 percent for general operations, 21 percent for capital expenses, 20 percent in reserves and 4 percent for stormwater.

Budget highlights include an increase in projected property values of 4.4 percent and a spending plan that keeps the ad valorem property tax rate unchanged at 1.92 mills. While the rate is unchanged, some residents could pay more due to rising property values. The rate of 1.92 mills is 4.13 percent higher than the rolled back rate of 1.8438 mills, which would bring in the same amount of tax revenue as the current year.

Regarding expenditures, Hochman explained that the 39 percent designated for contractual services is primarily for the law enforcement contract with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. Expenditures also includes a cost of living increase and an average 3.5 percent merit increase for village employees.

The only question on the budget came from Councilman Richard Valuntas.

“The only comment I would have, and it wouldn’t really have an impact this year, is the whole idea of a ‘beach’ at Commons Park. I’m not too keen on it, but since there’s no dollars allocated to it this year, I don’t think it’s that big of a deal,” Valuntas said.

Mayor Fred Pinto said that the project can be discussed at a future workshop session. “What will happen with this at our next strategic planning session, depending on how that goes, we may decide to move that up,” Pinto said. “But for now, it’s kind of on the horizon.”

All members of council were present and approved the spending package and tax rate.

After a moment of silence for those impacted in the Bahamas, Pinto took a moment to recognize the hard work of village staff to prepare and operate smoothly during Hurricane Dorian.

“They put a lot of hours in preparing the community,” Pinto said. “Fortunately, it turned out to be just an exercise, but nice job, for all of the team.”

The final budget hearing will take place on Thursday, Sept. 19 at 6:30 p.m., just before the council’s regular meeting. For more information on the budget, visit www.royalpalmbeach.com.