Delray Tax Rate Down, Budget Up

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By: Marisa Herman Associate Editor

The city of Delray Beach will have $134 million to spend in its operating budget this upcoming fiscal year.

That number is a bump up from $118 million this current year. The increase is thanks to rising property values in the city.

Commissioners agreed to lower its millage rate by one tenth of a mill. Property owners can expect to pay $6.979 per $1,000 of assessed property value. If you own a home valued at $300,000 with a $50,000 homestead exemption, your property tax bill from the city will total about $1,779.

Two commissioners wanted to see a bigger break for the taxpayers. Mayor Shelly Petrolia and Commissioner Adam Frankel voted against the millage rate on the first public hearing last month.

“This is the time to be able to give back, give some relief, so that in the future, if we do need to turn to our constituency and ask for a budget increase, we have some flexibility,” Petrolia said. “We have never really returned a good amount in a windfall year. We never seem to be able to find a way to return money to the taxpayers who are paying a lot of money.”

Commissioner Frankel said he remembers when the city’s budget was only $90 million just a few year ago and the discussion on the budget was about essential services versus luxury items.

He said he sees opportunities for fees to help pay for items in the budget. The city recently installed more parking meters. Frankel suggested implementing a fee for transient rentals.

“Fees can be garnered to reduce the impact on homeowners,” he said.

But with backlogged infrastructure needs, other commissioners did not want to lower the tax rate anymore.

Of concern to Commissioner Shirley Johnson was public safety. The last year of a three year plan to add more firefighters is not funded in the budget.

The new fiscal year starts Oct. 1.