Balancing act: City’s needs, financial responsibility

The most important job a city council does is handle is how to spend taxpayer money, and a workshop on May 8 started us down the road for 2019-2020.

The city’s department heads presented their thoughts as we head into the process and I’m going to give a little bit of a City Tax 101 here.

On June 1, the Broward County property appraiser gives us an estimate of taxable values in Plantation. The endgame is that we use that estimate times a millage rate (last year it was 5.80) to determine how much money we would accumulate. Note that property taxes are roughly one-half of the revenues we collect. The other half comes from fees.

Working on the other side of the ledger, the city is figuring out how much money is proper for the city budget. That means looking at a long shopping list of items and giving some a thumbs-up and some a thumbs-down.

That’s where the department heads come in. For example, we heard suggestions for extraction equipment and ballistics vests from our fire chief; a note from public works that the horizontal grinder, the machine that makes mulch, is 17 years old. And that the police force is still using 47 of the old Crown Victoria model cars, which the city stopped buying in 2010. (Note that “retired” police cars are then passed down to other city departments.) Parks and recreation would like to hold more special events and make improvements at the tennis center. I can, and likely will, do a full list sometime.

July 1 is the official first day for the TRIM (Truth In Millage) process. That’s when the property appraiser distributes the official certification of taxable values. They’re locked in.

The city then has 35 days to set a proposed maximum millage rate. We have a meeting on Wednesday, July 10, and the second meeting of the month was rescheduled to Monday, July 29, so all councilmembers could attend. There are lots more details to this but I’m trying to keep the storyline digestible.

The council then must hold a first public hearing on the tentative budget and the proposed millage rate. This year, that will be on Sept. 11. A second hearing, with formal adoption, is set for Sept. 18. The budget then goes into effect Oct. 1.

Figures from last year: We had a $109 million general fund operating budget, with about 48 percent of the funds collected via ad valorem revenues (property taxes). The rest comes from utility service fees, permit fees, special assessments. Here’s a link to the 2018-2019 budget:

Obviously, this is the core of what a city does. There will be disagreements on specifics and philosophy (i.e., are we better off paying for some things now or waiting until later?). Input is always accepted. My info, as always, is at the bottom of this newsletter.

Deicke and Jim Ward upgrade

That old carpet at the Jim Ward Community Center banquet room and Deicke Auditorium is going away. The city council approved new flooring during the May 8 meeting. The surface will be a new form of vinyl that feels more like tile, city staff workers say. It’s in place at the Plantation Community Center and has received good reviews.

The project costs about $39,000, which was budgeted in the Capital Improvement Plan for this year. ABC Flooring was the lowest bidder and will do the work.

School supply drive

The Friends of the Library are collecting new school supplies for the City of Plantation Parks and Recreation’s first school supply drive. Items can be dropped off at the Helen B. Hoffman Library until July 1 and will be delivered to the Parks Department for their staff to distribute at an event at Jim Ward Community Center on July 27.

They have requested backpacks, pencils, folders, markers, notebooks, colored pencils, erasers, Kleenex, glue sticks, crayons, highlighters, hand sanitizer, paper and pens.

Health care

I was fortunate to attend the open house of the re-branded Azura Vascular Care last week. While you might glaze over at those words, I hope you’ll understand the vital service they provide: The company, formerly American Access Care of Florida, treats those with vascular disease, including diabetes patients who are unable to receive dialysis because of vein complications.

So, this is no cosmetic vein center. They are providing life to people who otherwise would not receive dialysis. I enjoy these trips to businesses I know almost nothing about because it gives me a take on what is out there in “my” city.

The office is at 6766 W. Sunrise Boulevard, just west of Plantation Middle School. For more info, email

Coming up

The city council meets at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall. We will be discussing a sign at Westside Regional Medical Center, the Aldi coming in at 8200 W. Broward Blvd., and the site plan at 777 American Express Way. Find the whole agenda at

The city’s annual Memorial Day service is at 9:30 a.m. Monday, May 27, at Plantation Veterans Park, 1776 Lauderdale West Drive. That’s just south of Sunrise Boulevard, between University Drive and Pine Island Road.

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