Riviera Beach raises tax rate, avoids additional public safety cuts

By Jason Schultz
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Posted: 8:39 p.m. Monday, Aug. 2, 2010

In order to avoid laying off more firefighters and police officers and increasing response times, city council members tonight raised the city's property tax rate by almost 7 percent.

"We can always reduce staffing but at some point something has to give. We can't be everywhere at once," said Riviera Beach Fire Chief Troy Perry of the cuts his departments would face if the tax rate wasn't raised.

Council members voted 4-1 to raise the property tax rate from about $8.42 to about $8.99 per $1,000 of taxable value. The owner of a $150,000 home with $50,000 worth of homestead exemptions would pay about $899 in city taxes at that rate.

Proposed budget cuts are already eliminating six firefighter positions and five police officers, said City Manager Ruth Jones. Without the tax rate increase the city would have to make up a $1.4 million deficit. That would require laying off another five firefighters for a total of 11 firefighter positions eliminated.

That seemed to be too much for some council members.

"If we take away 11 bodies something is going to have to change drastically," said Councilman Cedrick Thomas.

Perry said cutting that many fire positions would force them to take engines and rescue trucks out of service. On days when too many officers were out sick or scheduled to be off, the city could have to close one of the city's four fire stations and have engines respond from other stations.

"If we don't have the bodies we can't put the bodies on the vehicles," Perry said.

The deficit would also require cutting at least one library position, a code enforcement officer and four police technicians who process crime scenes, Jones said.

Jones said the city is looking at alternative ways to generate revenue including using red light cameras. Police officials said one vendor has estimated putting lights at four intersections could generate $750,000, but Assistant Chief David Harris said that amount would probably drastically drop after the first year as motorists got used to the cameras being at specific lights.

Council Chairwoman Dawn Pardo voted against raising the tax rate, asking what residents paid taxes for if it wasn't for public safety.

She said that if the city raised the tax rate to almost $9 and the economy keeps getting worse, it could soon find itself against the state-mandated property tax limit of $10 per $1,000 of taxable value.

"I don't like that we're dangling public safety in front of our residents and putting it on their backs," Pardo said. "When does it stop."


So the solution to every issue is to raise taxes, but you will still have the same issues. Better money management would help!! Not raising taxes!! WAKE UP SHEEPLE

8:48 PM, 8/2/2010
Unfortunately my home and neighborhood lies just inside the Riviera Beach district. Our homes are among the highest valued in Riviera Beach. Therefore we will be paying for most of the increase in tax rates because the rest of Riviera Beach is a slum. There are no fires and no crimes in our neighborhood. As usual it is the taxpaying public who will be paying for the welfare economy that most of the rest of Riviera Beach consists of.

9:53 PM, 8/2/2010


Raise our taxes so we, the taxpayers, can fund Shelby Lowe's dry cleaning bill, city car, and ********* at the Tiki Bar. Why can councilmen vote to raise our taxes when they don't pay city taxes? The City Charter should be changed to MANDATE that elected officials in Riviera Beach be taxpayers. Only then will they realize the burden they're putting on us.

9:53 PM, 8/2/2010


They raised our taxes so we can continue to pay for the incompetency inside city hall. But shhhh don't talk about them. Use scare tactics by saying we need to layoff dozens of police and fire. Your city manager should be fired for not bringing solutions to the table. Any one can balance a budget using increased taxes. It takes a professional to cut a budget or at the very least, bring in a balanced budget not raising taxes or using general fund.
Sick of it!

10:31 PM, 8/2/2010
That's it, we're out of here. This news has pushed us over the edge. We will no longer be making our mortgage payments (starting August 15) and will move out of Florida as soon as the bank decides to reposeess our house. That will take at least 6 months to a year. In that time we won't make our property tax payment in November either. We will save all those missed payments for the start of a new life elsewhere in CASH. Good luck to those who decide to stay.
Fed Up

10:42 PM, 8/2/2010
Vote them out. Do this at the city level, then the county level and at the state level and finally at the national level

That's ALL they know: raise taxes (shh..let's call it revenue!)

More money is not always the answer Get those elected officials out of office

Start with the school board, they want to continue the half cent sales tax and have increased your school millage (TAX)

so hasn't the county raised your millage

and the fire department they want their OWN pot of money
whatcha gonna do

10:50 PM, 8/2/2010


Pardon me rukiddingme

Let the racist element come right on out, and I can bet at least one of your neighbors is black, and yes I am a homeowner and i pay taxes as well, and i do not consider where i live to be a slum, and if certain places in Riviera Beach are slums its because of the white slumlords who overextended there credit and took as much money out on bad loans and left it a slum...

11:03 PM, 8/2/2010
isn't it funny how every justification for further taxing the poor people of this area is because of firefighters and police? I didn't realize we lived in such a fire prone area

11:07 PM, 8/2/2010
The city is a slum because the city cares more about recidivist felons and section 8 leeches than taxpayers.Through the years, the city has allowed itself to become the dumping ground for those unwilling to help themselves. You have a mayor and a few commissioners that dont care about anything but taking care of felons.Stop blaming the white man for everything. Riviera was a fine city until you no longer allowed the white man to have a say. Time for more cream in the coffee wouldn't you agree?

11:14 PM, 8/2/2010
Fire is an issue because the residents use the fire station as a triage center/health clinic. Ask the Mayor...
tiny tim

11:16 PM, 8/2/2010


The council gave away Tiki bar lease for $6k a month when they had an offer for $22K a month, they spent over

$300K on a political vendetta for Viking against Fane Lozman, they paid a city mgr $150K to run this tiny town & she

 raises our taxes, they have run paying renters out of the marina to please Viking, costing residents millions in lost revenue,

 they gave away a public street to Viking for zero, now raise our tax rate to the highest in the state WHERE ARE THE

 FEDS? We're getting raped.

12:20 AM, 8/3/2010


The city official was quoted as saying that the 1.4 million dollar deficit would cause the laying off of 5 more fireman. That is

 280000 dollars per fireman. I want to be a fireman for the city of Riviera Beach.
voice of reason

12:39 AM, 8/3/2010
New City Mgr. didn't balance budget last year & won't this year either. Council said her continued employment would be

 based on balancing the budget. All talk - no action.

Her only recommendation is raise taxes. How about cutting out city "freebys" instead of installing parking meters at the

 beach and red light cameras?

Fire dept. pays $1 MILLION to the general fund every year. No wonder there's not enough funds in fire dept.

Then we hire CRA Dir. with no CRA experience! Way to go!
Earn your keep

2:57 AM, 8/3/2010


letmetellyouthis - You can hide behind the race card because it is the simplest way for you to justify the problems in your

 community. Instead of sticking your head in the sand why not face the facts that Riviera Beach has problems because of the

 make up of the population? The vast majority of it's residents are living off of public tax dollars through social programs,

 thus contributing nothing to the local economy of Riviera Beach.

The truth is evident unless your head is up your a*s*s.

3:51 AM, 8/3/2010


letmetellyouthis - Yes, some of my neighbors are black. They are in foreclosure and will be moving away soon because

 THEY bought homes that they could not afford and overextended their OWN credit. Hopefully soon the decline in values

 in my neighborhood will again rise when they finally leave.

The truth may sound racist, but it is still the truth.

3:57 AM, 8/3/2010


A couple quick thoughts. I know my salary went up 7% - didn't yours? I might have to read the article a third time but didn't

 notice what steps, measures, brainstorming, etc. the fire dept. has done to reduce expenses. But I'm sure they've done

 EVERYTHING they can to help out their neighbors in these trying times. Last, I love the part about the red light cameras.

 At least their honest about using them to raise revenue and not BS'ing people about them actually being for safety!

5:09 AM, 8/3/2010
We already pay for their pensions and healthcare, now they want to increase our taxes again. Government workers should

 pay for their own pensions and healthcare...just like the rest of us do!


6:12 AM, 8/3/2010


My husband and at one time lived and owned rental property in Riviera Beach. I am so glad to be rid of it and in hope one

 day to convince my parents to leave too. They are old school and only move every 100 yrs. I grew up in RB and it is an

embarrassment as to what has happened to this city and their corrupt city council. The mayor is a joke and an

 embarrassment. Prime property and the council did nothing good with it. I agree, what a waste.

7:00 AM, 8/3/2010
Interesting that only one council person voted not to raise our taxes. Just goes to show everyone inside city hall is related,

 looking out for each other and could care less about the people financing the city. We need to get rid of the welfare

 mentality at city hall. I am middle class, hardworking, took a pay cut, try to do the right thing and no one is looking out for

 me. I have a better chance of getting something if I quit my job and get arrested. The mayor and majority of council sux.
Desert Rose

7:50 AM, 8/3/2010