By Jessica Sanchez and Mike S Payton, Contributing Reporters
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – The Miami Beach City Commission adopted a $350 million budget for fiscal year 2020 reducing a preliminary $4.4 million shortage balanced through efficiencies and administrative reductions on September 25th. This included cutting 28 staff positions that were in the 2019 budget.
According to the Miami Herald, property taxes make up approximately 54 percent of the city’s general fund revenues for the 2020 fiscal year, while police and fire services account for about 59 percent of expenditures.
In a statement released today, October 3rd, Mayor Dan Gelber explained, “This year, like last year, we experienced a slowdown in the increase of our property tax revenues. Our actual property values increased only slightly (3.1 percent), and we have had a slowdown in new development (something many residents are happy with).”
The other primary source of income is resort taxes which are generated from taxes on hotel, and food and beverage bills. While the city has a separate resort tax fund, the city’s share of resort taxes make up 10.5 percent of the operating budget general fund revenues.
The passed 2020 budget includes a one-time expense of $1.5 million for police services during the NFL Super Bowl in February to be held at Miami Dolphins’ Hard Rock Stadium next year in Miami Gardens.
It also adds funding of about $200,000 for homeless and domestic-violence services, $300,000 for a sea level rise study and $200,000 in City Hall security improvements.
The commission did deny the Environment & Sustainability Department’s request to hire a full-time environmental technician to inspect construction sites for sediment entering Biscayne Bay via the storm-water system.
However the budget avoids major cuts to public facing programs and services and keeps the property tax rate flat while increasing the debt service rate to pay for the General Obligation Bonds approved by voters last November.
City Manager Jimmy Morales shared, “I am proud to share that the FY 2020 budget incorporated feedback from the 2019 Community Survey and truly reflects the community’s priorities.”
“[A]s a result, including the voter-approved Office of the Inspector General, a dedicated police officer at all Miami Beach public schools, increased funding for the STEAM Plus program and homelessness and domestic violence funding — with only two more city staff positions in comparison to fiscal year 2007.”
He added, “It also included the first use of an innovative zero-based budgeting exercise and built on the second year of program budgeting.”
Chief Financial Officer John Woodruff noted, “This year’s budget marks a significant milestone in the city’s financial history,” He added, “Strengthening our financial resilience as a city, the City Commission approved an increase in the general fund reserve target from 17 to 24 percent.”
Mayor Gelber confirmed he was “very proud” of the budget which reflects “a very small increase, under actually the cost of living. […] This is an extremely balanced budget. It is a fiscally responsible budget that reflects the needs of our community.”