Riviera Beach proposal cuts jobs, raises taxes
By Willie Howard
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Updated: 10:17 p.m. Saturday, July 24, 2010
Posted: 8:52 p.m. Saturday, July 24, 2010
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RIVIERA BEACH — Falling property values continue to take a toll on Riviera Beach's budget.
Facing a 15 percent drop in the city's taxable property value, City Manager Ruth Jones has proposed a budget that offsets a projected $6.7 million shortfall for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.
Jones' proposal includes:
Last fall, the council held the tax rate unchanged at $8.43 for each $1,000 in taxable value for the current budget year but borrowed $2.8 million from reserves.
The proposed $49.5 million general fund budget - down from $53.2 million this year - does not tap reserves. But it would increase the tax rate to $9.43 per $1,000.
Consolidations proposed in the budget would combine the Parks and Recreation Department and the library under a Parks and Leisure Services Department.
Jones proposes eliminating one of two assistant city manager jobs and creating a lower-paid assistant to the city manager position to handle special projects and grants.
Communications, marketing and oversight of the city's public access television station, RBTV-18, would be handled under a new public information officer proposed in Jones' plan. Communications is currently handled by the city's chief of staff, Rose Anne Brown .
"I like the idea that she's making some efforts to restructure," Councilman Shelby Lowe said of Jones. "She's got some more work to do. "We're top-heavy." Lowe agrees with plans to eliminate the Jazz After Dark subsidy. He said the concerts could be run by a private company instead of the Parks and Recreation Department.
But Councilman Cedrick Thomas is fighting the plans to cut $90,000 in annual support for Jazz After Dark. "I see a signature event for this city that I'm very proud of," Thomas said during a budget workshop Tuesday .
The only city-funded special event in the proposed budget is the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration.
Thomas also asked Jones to look for ways to support the Weed and Seed and Youth Empowerment Center programs that provide after-school activities for youths.
Proposed police department cuts include laying off one technician and eliminating five vacant officer positions and one vacant position for a lieutenant.
Plans to lay off six of the city's 70 firefighters would force the city to close one of its four fire stations or pay more in overtime to maintain staffing levels, said Chuck Lupo, a union representative with the Professional Firefighters/Paramedics of Palm Beach County.
The manager's proposal assumes the marina will be under construction during much of the budget year. Jones recommends eliminating eight jobs at the marina: three dock attendants, one clerk and four forklift operators.
The city does not plan to offer on-land boat storage during construction, but about 60 wet slips, fuel sales, the marina store and Newcomb Hall are expected to remain open.
City manager's budget plan
$49.5 million general fund, down 7 percent
Proposed tax rate: $9.43 per $1,000 taxable property value, up 12 percent
Changes in personnel: 38 jobs eliminated including six firefighters, five police positions and eight marina employees. Extending one-day-a-month unpaid furloughs. Offering incentives for employees to leave.
Meetings: Budget workshop at 5:30 p.m. Monday .
Riviera Beach council stymied in picking preliminary tax rate for 2010-11
By Willie Howard
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Posted: 2:10 p.m. Thursday, July 22, 2010
RIVIERA BEACH — The city council is deadlocked on how much it wants to charge property owners in taxes next year.
The council split 2-2 Wednesday on setting the maximum tax rate at $9.43 for each $1,000 in taxable value for the coming budget year, which starts Oct. 1.
Chairwoman Dawn Pardo and Councilman Cedrick Thomas voted against the proposed preliminary tax rate, a 12 percent increase from the city's existing rate. Councilman Shelby Lowe was absent.
The council also split 2-2 on a proposal to set the maximum tax rate at $8.93 per $1,000, which would be a 6 percent hike. Pardo and Councilwoman Judy Davis cast the dissenting votes on that proposal.
City Manager Ruth Jones is recommending the $9.43 rate, which would mean a $943 city tax bill for the owner of a $150,000 home with a homestead exemption.
City spokeswoman Rose Anne Brown said no date has been scheduled for the council to set the preliminary tax rate, which must be sent to the Palm Beach County property appraiser's office by Aug. 4.
The preliminary tax rate is the
maximum rate the city could levy for the
2010-11 budget year. The council could
approve a lower tax rate when it passes
the final budget in September.