Coral Springs weighs raising taxes to keep it as 'great place' to live

By:Sun Sentinel - January 11, 2018

Coral Springs would hire more police officers, add park amenities and get more mosquito-killing tablets to ward off Zika.

Helping pay for it all would be the city’s plan to increase taxes and fees for the upcoming year.

The property tax rate is proposed to be increased from $5.09 for every $1,000 of assessed property value to $6.32.

For a house valued at $250,000, after a $50,000 homestead exemption, this means $1,264 in city taxes, an increase from $1,018. For the city, it would mean an extra $14 million in property tax revenue.

“There was a time you pulled in to Coral Springs and you knew right away. ... It was a great place to be,” said Commissioner Larry Vignola. “People want to live in a community they are proud of and want to show their friends, ‘This is where I live.’” He said he’s afraid of “what will happen to the city” if more upkeep isn’t done.

Among the projects on the city’s wish list include hiring paramedics and police detectives, building pickleball courts, purchasing Zika tablets to drop into standing water, and almost half-a-million dollars in median improvements. Also being considered:

— Hiring four police detectives. Cost: $670,000

— Hiring three firefighter/paramedics. $286,000

— Allocating another $201,500 for the Municipal Complex, already budgeted at $38 million. The money is to move from the old City Hall to the new one, and provide increased security.

— Buying mosquito-killing tablets. $30,000

— Adding four pickleball courts. $55,000

— Replacing Aiello Field’s artificial turf. $400,000

— Improving medians. $450,000.

Fees could go up as well: The fire assessment fee could be raised $25, from $155 to $180 for a single?family home.

The proposed increase for multi-family homes, commercial and industrial property has not been determined yet. But there is “no significant change” expected, said Catherine Givens, the budget director.

The solid waste fee will be raised by $8.25. Single-family homes will pay $248, an increase from $239.75.

Figures for multi-family homes have not been determined yet.

Water rates will increase by $2.24 a month for the average homeowner — an increase of 3.5 percent.

“It absolutely has to be done,” said Vice Mayor Dan Daley. “Some form of increase is going to be necessary.”

He said the Legislature is pushing for an additional homestead exemption — and if that happens, that means less money for the city, which means it needs to raise taxes to make up the difference. He said there is “no fat” in the city left to cut.

Voters likely will be asked if they’d be willing to pay even more. Commissioners are considering a general revenue bond on the March ballot that would have homeowners pay anywhere from $37 to $239 a year.

Mayor Skip Campbell said much of the bond issue could be used on city park improvements, and to replace a city garage where vehicles and equipment are stored, and service is done to vehicles including fire engines.

Reconstruction of a fire station on Ramblewood Drive — built in 1977 - could also be on the bond’s list. The complete project list hasn’t been created yet, but the commission would need to vote whether to have a bond referendum by December.