Parkland to add police officers, build fire station

With property values increasing by 6.5 percent in the city and new homes continuing to be in high demand, Parkland is loosening its purse strings.

The city intends to take a 15-year, $7 million loan to fund some of its capital projects, including the western fire station. It will also hire two new police officers in 2013-2014, thus completing its fourth police zone.

The city’s proposed millage rate is 3.9900, a decrease of 0.0099 from 2012-2013. Residents will however pay more in taxes as there is a total increase in taxable value of $196 million, with new construction alone accounting for $73 million. The gross taxable property value is $3.19 billion, up from $2.99 billion in 2012-2013. The increase will fetch the city additional ad valorem revenue of $670,000.

There is an increase of 1.7 percent in the city’s fire rescue contract with Coral Springs, but the fire assessment fee will remain $210 for residential properties and $0.4965 per square feet for commercial. Solid waste assessment will be $343.20 for residential properties, an increase of $4.68 over the current year.

The $25.4 million budget brings cheer to city staff, as well as it includes a cost-of-living adjustment of 2 percent and a merit increase of 0 to 2 percent. Employees’ pension remains unchanged, but there is an increase of 13.5 percent in health insurance. The city has set aside $120,000 for streetlights and $43,000 to fund school programs.

The city’s capital projects fund is $7,565,000, an increase of $3,220,000 from last year. Among the projects that will be taken up this year are a $3.1 million fire station in the wedge area and $3 million for three new fields at Pine Trails Park. The city has also set aside $331,000 for street lighting.

The proposed $7 million loan is intended to fund capital projects. “The money is so cheap right now that we want to take advantage before the rates go up,” Mayor Michael Udine said. “We have money in reserve to pay the loan at any time. This is the year that the western fire station and other things will be built.”

Vice Mayor Dave Rosenof was happy to see money being set aside for adding two police officers to complete the fourth police zone. “I love the fact that we are funding the infrastructure replacement fund without getting into our reserves,” he said. “It is a huge deal.”

City staff had initially proposed the same millage rate as last year; it was Commissioner Mark Weissman’s idea to reduce it, even if marginally. “This commission has in the past sent a message to our residents that, whenever possible, we try to save money,” he said. “A millage rate of 3.9900 will take about $30,000 out of the budget. It seems like we won’t miss the money.”

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