Tamarac Commission approves lower mileage rate and loss of $1 million for parks and events • Tamarac Talk
By Agrippina Fadel
The feeling when discussing the final budget for 2023 was similar to experiencing a hostage situation.
Negotiations over the final mileage rate for September 22 lasted more than six hours, leaving some commission members, as well as city staff, visibly defeated.
After approving the mileage rate not to be exceeded last week at 7.2000, the commissioners may have been ready to lower it as Vice Mayor Mike Gelin and Commissioner Marlon Bolton expressed their desire to see a rate of 7.1000.
What they didn’t expect was the endless seesaw, with commissioners Debra Placko and Elvin Villalobos and mayor Michelle Gomez pleading and reasoning with Gelin and Bolton to compromise for hours. In vain.
The commission needed a majority vote to approve the mileage rate; however, finding a solution that four out of five members would agree with proved difficult.
Gelin began passing printed materials to residents around the venue amid public comments, prompting Gomez to ask City Attorney John Herin if “distributing propaganda” during the meeting was okay.
Gelin said the documents were his presentation on the budget.
He continued to quote different sources throughout the meeting while advocating for a lower rate, including a quote from a resident’s email who said the numbers presented by city staff for the increase in taxes with the 7.2000 mileage rate were “not accurate” because as a new owner he will see twice as much property tax as last year from $2,485 to $5,104.
He was wrong. Its municipal share of its property taxes went from $523 to $1,405.
Villalobos and Gomez later said that using a new homeowner’s tax increase as an argument in the mileage rate discussion is misleading because a resident buying the same house at a much higher value will pay more taxes than the previous owner, and at the same time pay more if the home they sold was assessed at a lower value than the new home, regardless of the mileage rate.
When Gelin said the budget information presented by staff doesn’t paint the full picture, Gomez reminded him that they were finance professionals who had no reason to lie or mislead the commission. municipal or residents.
With Gomez, Villalobos and Placko advocating the 7.2000 rate and Bolton and Gelin pushing for 7.0000, 7.1000 seemed like a natural compromise.
Yet motions to raise the mileage rate continued to fail, with Bolton and Gelin refusing to go above 7.0000 and the rest of the commission unwilling to drop the rate that low, knowing it would mean that the city budget would lose more than $1 million in revenue. .
“Can we find a compromise here? I feel stuck because we need four votes, and I don’t like that position. Can we work together to do what’s best for the city? said Plako.
Villalobos has often stressed that everyone on the commission except Gelin and Bolton is ready to find common ground.
After another round of failed attempts to approve the rate, Herin explained that if the commission was unable to approve the mileage rate and budget, the city should notify the revenue department and place a special notice at all residents.
“This is a long and expensive process that will put a strain on staff. The budget will automatically revert to the previous year’s mileage rate, and the city will receive a penalty and lose all state revenue sharing,” he added.
Budget Director Jeff Streder explained that between returning to the rollback rate and losing shared state revenue and sales taxes, the city could lose $11 million in revenue, which will affect the staff and city services for residents.
Gelin told his colleagues he would let the mileage rate return to the previous year’s level if the rest of the commission did not vote on the 7.0000 rate, saying, “That’s how far I am ready to go”.
After nearly five hours of fruitless negotiations, Gomez felt the town of Tamarac was “locked in, bullied and tied up.”
“We’re in a position where if we don’t come up with a budget that satisfies a few people on the commission who have taken a stand, the city won’t have a budget, will lose funds and lose employees,” she said. added.
Gomez offered to set the mileage rate at 7,000, saying she was doing so “with extreme disdain to have been placed in this position.”
“It’s my responsibility, on behalf of the city, to make sure this ship doesn’t sink with the games going on. Everyone can clearly see what’s going on here,” she said.
The commission approved the rate of 7.0000 mileage, which is 1.5613 vintages or 8.72% shrinkage rate. Streder said residents with a median taxable home would, on average, pay $12 more in taxes than last year.
The commission then discussed what could be cut from the budget to make up for the $1 million the city will not receive with the lower rate.
In the end, City Manager Kathleen Gunn offered to come up with a list of possible cuts by getting rid of the $291,000 fitness area at one of the parks, cutting the events budget by $127,000. , reducing initiatives by $95,000 and a security master plan. of $500,000, for a total of $1,013,233.
The commission unanimously approved the suggested cuts and set the budget for fiscal year 2023 at $242,974,613.
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Agrippina Fadel grew up in Siberia and earned her master’s degree in journalism from Tyumen State University. Agrippina is also a writer and editor at Draftsy.net. She has resided in the United States for over ten years and speaks English and Russian.