Loxahatchee Groves Adopts Unchanged Preliminary Assessments For 2021-22

The Loxahatchee Groves Town Council made several approvals related to the fiscal year 2021-22 budget on Tuesday, July 6.

The preliminary non-ad valorem assessment for solid waste collection was set at $450 per unit for residential curbside service, the ad valorem rate was set at 3 mills, and the non-ad valorem assessment for roads and drainage was set at $200 per acre.

All the assessments are the same as last year, but since property values have increased, the town stands to gain about $70,000 more than the previous year from ad valorem revenue.

The rates set at the meeting were the TRIM (Truth in Millage) rates. They can be lowered when the final budget is approved but cannot be raised.

“We’ll be coming back for workshops on budgeting,” Town Manager Jamie Titcomb said. “Since our ad valorem certification has occurred, we know what the valuations of the town are, and we know what our costs are. At this point, we’re going through a ministerial exercise to confirm both our solid waste collection rates… as well as setting maximum millage for the purpose of moving through the budget process.”

After rates are discussed in workshops over the next 100 days, two public hearings will be held in September to codify the final rates. He explained that the rates being approved that evening serve as a notice to the public what to anticipate.

“Staff has recommended that we keep the current rate structures in place,” he said. “Once you set this as a maximum, you cannot go above it, you can only drop it from that point.”

Titcomb recommended that the council adopt the current rate of $450 annually for residential solid waste collection. Councilwoman Phillis Maniglia made a motion to adopt the resolution, which carried 5-0.

Maniglia added that she would like to look at the method of recycling for the coming year. “I’m not sure it’s all getting collected, and it’s something that we’re supposed to get a credit for,” she said.

Mayor Robert Shorr suggested looking into using two-compartment recycling trucks for collection as part of the solid waste contract. “We’re definitely going to be in a contract negotiation mode over the next month,” Shorr said.

The council also adopted the current 3.0 millage rate for 2021-22.

“Staff is recommending establishing the preliminary ad valorem millage rate for TRIM purposes for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 at 3 mills, which is the same as the current year,” Titcomb said. “There will be a slight increase in revenues to the town if that maximum millage rate is retained, because we were one of the lucky communities that had an expansion in valuation due to COVID-19, real estate sales and all of the things that made our values go up here. In fact, much more than they went up across the street and other places.”

Maniglia made a motion to adopt the rate of 3.0 mills, which carried 5-0. She added that the town should stay the course. “I feel that we’re able to pave these roads,” she said. “It’s obvious that that is what the town folks want.”

Shorr said that with the additional $70,000, the town might be able to do some additional drainage work.

Recessing the council meeting to convene as the Loxahatchee Groves Water Control District (LGWCD), the board adopted a $200 per acre non-ad valorem assessment rate for roads and drainage.

Shorr passed the gavel to LGWCD President Laura Danowski, who called the meeting to order to consider the resolution.

Titcomb said the resolution sets the preliminary non-ad valorem assessment for fiscal year 2021-22 at $200.

“As discussed in the previous items, staff’s recommendation here is also to pass the TRIM at the current rate of $200 per acre for the purpose of setting the rate both within deadline and for the budgetary process,” he said.

Shorr made a motion to approve the resolution, which carried 5-0.