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Westin Budget

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  • Westin Budget

    Weston budget is `consistent'

    By Joe Kollin
    Staff Writer
    Posted September 7 2003

    weston ยท How much will the city government charge you for owning property in Weston during the coming year?

    Is it too much? What services would you cut to bring the expenses in line with your expectations?

    Do you think the city isn't spending enough for law enforcement, fire rescue services or parks? What is needed and where would you get the money?

    It's that time of year again when the City Commission, as required by state law, must listen to any resident who wants to talk about the city's tax and spending plans for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. Now is the time to speak up.

    The first of two public hearings is set for 7 p.m. Monday in the Weston Community Center, located in the Broward County Regional Park at Weston, 20200 Saddle Club Road. After the hearing, commissioners will vote to tentatively set the budget.

    The second public hearing is set for Sept. 22 at the same time and same place. The commission will adopt the tax and spending plans after again hearing from the public.

    Although the budget is considered the single most important thing a local government does, few residents -- sometimes none -- show up at the public hearings to comment. Politicians generally consider the lack of interest a sign that voters are happy with their decisions.

    The budget proposed by City Manager John Flint would continue to operate the city in a fashion that has been described by city officials as a well-oiled machine.

    Mayor Eric Hersh said he is satisfied with the proposal that the commission will consider.

    "It is consistent with our 10-year business plan," he said. "It meets our reserve requirements while providing an increased level of service for police and fire, adds Vista Park and lowers garbage rates. I'm very pleased with it."

    Here are the proposals that the commission will consider:

    Budget: If approved as proposed, total city-related spending income would increase to $94 million, up from the current year's $89.4 million. Total spending would be $90.8 million, a 4.2 percent increase. Reserves would be $3.2 million.

    Major new expenses include adding six sheriff's deputies, enough to provide one officer to patrol the newly developing Isles of Weston full-time, plus a third code enforcement officer to cover the city on weeknights and weekends.

    The budget also includes adding nine paramedic positions so a third paramedic can be added to two rescue vehicles on each shift. Now, only one of the three vehicles is fully staffed. Flint also proposes buying nine rocket line-throwing devices, one for each fire and rescue unit, to help with water rescues, and a fourth thermal imaging device so firefighters can find people in burning buildings.

    Tax rate: The commission is expected to set the property tax rate for the seventh consecutive year at $1.52 for each $1,000 of assessed property value. At this rate, the owner of a house assessed at $100,000 would pay $114 in city property taxes after taking the state's standard $25,000 homestead exemption

    Although the tax rate remains the same, the amount homeowners actually pay could go up if Broward Property Appraiser Bill Markham raised the assessments on their homes. The total taxable value of property in the city for the new year is $5.3 billion, 14 percent more than the current year. Of the 14 percent increase, more than 10 percent is from increases in values of existing property. The balance is from new property added to the tax rolls.

    Fire fee: All property owners pay the fee, which is used for the fire protection portion of the service that the city buys from Broward County Fire-Rescue. Rescue services are included in the general budget. Home and condo owners have been paying $190.98 for the current year for fire protection, but Flint has proposed a 4.6 percent increase to $199.79. The fee would raise $5.1 million. Commercial property owners pay a fee based on square footage.

    Garbage fee: The cost of garbage service should go down even though the city on Monday will take the first step necessary to add a 20 percent franchise tax to residential garbage bills. Now, only commercial customers pay a franchise tax. The commission in May negotiated a contract with All Service Refuse of Fort Lauderdale to take over the city's franchise from BFI Waste Services beginning Jan. 1.

    All Service's charge will drop so much that even with the new franchise tax, the $17.44 that single-family homeowners pay each month will be 21 percent less than the $22.08 they pay now without any franchise tax. Condo owners will pay 18 percent less and commercial users will pay 12 percent less.

    Indian Trace and Bonaventure district assessments: All home and condo owners, depending on their location, pay an assessment to the Indian Trace or Bonaventure Development District to maintain public property, prevent flooding, finance the construction of roads, water and sewer systems and pay for the specialized neighborhood law enforcement services not included in the general budget.

    Bonaventure property owners will pay 5.8 percent more than the year just ending. Flint proposes $424.31 for a single-family home and $268.30 for each condo unit, up from $401.16 for a house and $253.66 for a condo.

    Everyone who doesn't live in Bonaventure pays the Indian Trace district. Assessments differ but should be "relatively stable," Flint said.

    Joe Kollin can be reached at [email protected] or 954-385-7913.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
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    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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