Residents shows up at four Parkland budget workshops

Parkland residents are either really happy with the state of affairs in the city or don’t care at all.

The city, which is in the midst of finalizing its budget for fiscal year 2013, recently organized four budget workshops for residents to express concerns, if any, and to ask questions. None turned up.

“We normally have two budget workshops for residents,” Mayor Michael Udine said at a City Commission workshop on the issue. “This year, we had two workshops in the morning and two in the night. We had zero residents and zero comments.”

Udine would like to believe the absence of resident involvement is because the city is doing all the right things. “We are lowering the tax rate; we are the only city to lower the millage rate this year,” he said. “Property values are rising. We are not getting any residents because they see the results of what we are doing.”

More than half of the city’s operating budget goes to public safety, said Nancy Murando, finance director. “It is gradually increasing and is at 52 percent now. Public safety and fire used to be 50 percent of the budget.”

Commissioner Jared Moskowitz wanted the city to set aside money for use if a hurricane ends up causing damage to the city’s tree canopy.

“We do better than other cities when it comes to landscaping,” Moskowitz said. “Coral Springs is trying to do catch-up; the city is spending a million dollars on landscaping this year. We need to have a tree replacement program in place in the case of a hurricane. We lost 10 to 12 percent of our tree canopy due to Hurricane Wilma.”

At a meeting in July, city officials had voted unanimously to lower the millage rate to $3.99 for every $1,000 of assessed value. Staff had recommended staying with the current millage rate of $4.02.

The city finds itself in a position better than most others in the tri-county area because of an increase in gross taxable property value. The figure went up from $2.9 billion in fiscal year 2012 to $3 billion this year. Due to the increase, the city will collect more than $250,000 in additional ad valorem revenue even with the decreased rate.

Due to construction in the Wedge area, the city anticipates $1.1 million in additional building permit related revenues in 2013. The city’s fire assessment rate will stay at $210 for residential and $0.50 per square feet for commercial properties. The cost of fire services will go up 3.67 percent in 2013, which is the same rate increase that Coral Springs residents will experience.

Solid waste assessment for residential units will increase next year $10.08 or 3 percent to $338.52. Broward Sheriff’s Office will add two officers, a deputy and a sergeant, in 2013. The city will decrease one full-time position while 15 part-time positions will be added. The city has set aside $120,000 for its 50th anniversary celebrations and $43,000 for programs in schools.

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