Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Happy New Fiscal Year

Last night, the commission approved the budget for FY 2015, which takes effect today.   It's a bigger budget than last year and continues to shortchange services that residents want in favor of spending that employees want.  But it went through.  

The presentation on the budget was about two hours long.  Most of that time was taken up with a subject that is not covered in the budget, the catastrophe that is our sewer system.  It is crystal clear that our muddy waters require a full rebuild.  No words were minced last night.  The situation is dire and will lead to county sanctions in the form of a building moratorium and another sharp plunge in property values.   The cost to fix this won't be cheap.  Like Miami Beach, we could easily wind up doubling our utility bills and we will have to live with a long period of disruption.  

It took foresight for the village manager to bring up a message that nobody wants to hear and everyone has to.  The descriptions were graphic and clear.  One dismaying surprise is that some of the damage is straight up vandalism, people prying open manhole covers and dumping metal and concrete in our stormwater system.   

But the good news for the two members of the dais running for election is that there is no action being taken now so they can continue their cognitive dissonance of saying "we really didn't raise taxes other than to raise them last and this year but why do you care?"  

First the campaign treasurer for Jorge Gonzalez got up to speak by proxy for the candidate and said that he didn't know where all this talk that the commission could be coming from since he looked at his bill and it didn't go up much at all.  He then explained that in his experience sometimes there were costs that were too much for some people and they should move.  

Since I know he religiously reads this blog, let me explain again.  

Last year, taxes went up 22% in total.  This was the highest rise in Miami-Dade County and is reported by the Florida Department of Revenue here.  

The effect is different for different types of ownership.  If you own and live in your house, you protected by Homestead to a 3% increase.  If you own but do not live full time in the house or condo, you get a 10% rise.  If you rent it out, you are raised at whatever the full amount might be.  In North Bay Village, 16% of the property tax bills went to homesteads.   61% went to non-homesteads and the bulk of these are rental units and is a big reason rents which disproportionately affect lower earners are going up.   Not made up.  It's on the Department of Revenue site here

This FY 2015, the millage rate stayed the same but since property values rose, this same 61% or so will see a 13.5% raise in their taxes.  It's simple math.  

There's no point in arguing this yet Gonzalez and others seem to think misleading leads to credibility. 

Then the campaign treasurer for Connie Kreps got up to warn against setting the millage rate too low because when during his administration (really, he said that) they set the millage rate too low in the expectation that the new buildings would cover the difference and then they didn't and he voted against it and then when we wound up paying for two city attorneys, two police chiefs and two city managers because he didn't they communicated good the city couldn't afford it.  And I swear I cut that sentence in half it was that long.  

From the dais themselves, there were only two questions, one really was a statement of dismay at the sewer vandalism and I don't remember the other.  Then with one amendment, they passed the budget.  

I'll post about the amendment later but it funded PAL.   So that's good.  

Kevin Vericker
October 1, 2014

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