Hollywood’s millage rate reduced as city works to close budget gap

dtvolz Hollywood's millage rate reduced as city works to close budget gap

David Volz

Reporter at Hollywood Gazette
David Volz has been a freelance writer and reporter for Hollywood Gazette since 2010.
dtvolz Hollywood's millage rate reduced as city works to close budget gap

The Hollywood Commission set the not-to-exceed millage rate at 7.7363 at a recent meeting.

This is a slight reduction from last year’s total rate of 7.8007, which included the operating millage of 7.4479 and the voted debt service millage of .3528. The millage rate is going down because the City’s debt service rate is adjusting to .2884. The FY 2016 Adopted Budget for all funds totals $490,087,321, according to the city’s web site.

During upcoming budget hearings, the Commission can reduce this rate, but is unlikely to do so. City administration has developed a proposed budget to close a $20 million budget gap for fiscal year 2017, which was addressed at a recent workshop.

Pensions are a major concern. The City spends roughly $50 million a year to cover pension costs, which is more than half of what is generated in property taxes. Healthcare costs have increased by about $6.7 million. Also, Hollywood has not received $2.6 million in state chapter funds because of pending litigation involving the 13thcheck. An increase in property values created an extra $1.9 million in property taxes this year.

In an effort to save money, the City is considering a transition to a four-day, ten-hour work week to save about $300,000. Because of the budget gap, the City budget team asked all department heads to shave five percent from their overall operating budgets. If approved, 45 unfilled positions will be frozen to save about $7 million including 11 sworn police officer positions.

“The city manager is doing the best he can,” remarked Commissioner Patricia Asseff.  “We have to be resourceful and bring in new income during the next couple of years to stay solvent. It’s a big balancing act and it would be a big help if we can get that new one penny sales tax. Then we would have more money to fix roads and sidewalks.”

Vice Mayor Peter Hernandez said it is important for the City to come up with a balanced budget. “We need to look at how much money we are putting into the Beach CRA,” he said. Hernandez also expressed concern about the fact that various city services are being eliminated and that important public safety positions are not being filled.

Commissioner Kevin Biederman added, “I have faith in the city manager. I am optimistic that he will have a balanced budget.”

Another budget workshop for the City Commission is expected to take place during the last week of August.

The first budget hearing is set for September 14 at 5:30 p.m and the final budget hearing will be on September 28 at 5:30 p.m. in the City Commission Chamber.

About David Volz

David Volz has been a freelance writer and reporter for Hollywood Gazette since 2010.

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