Riviera Beach proposes 6 percent tax rate increase

RIVIERA BEACH Nine full-time and nine part-time employees would face layoffs, and Riviera Beach property owners would pay the city an extra 50 cents per $1,000 taxable value under a version of next year's budget proposal.

City Manager Ruth Jones' suggested budget cuts include 29 full-time positions, 20 of which are vacant, and 16 part-time positions, seven of them vacant.

The police department's attorney, three police dispatchers, three police communications supervisors, a police staff assistant and the city's special events coordinator would lose their full-time jobs under Jones' proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

The dispatcher reduction would be possible because the city hopes to reach an agreement with Palm Beach County to handle fire and rescue calls.

The jobs of five part-time lifeguards at the Barracuda Bay Aquatic Complex would be eliminated in keeping with the city's plan to reduce hours at the pool to save money, city spokeswoman Rose Anne Brown said.

Three aides in the Parks and Recreation Department and a building permit technician also would lose their part-time jobs under Jones' budget.

To further reduce personnel costs, the city plans to ask all employees to take one unpaid day off a month.

For property owners, the tax rate under Jones' budget would increase from $8.43 per $1,000 taxable value to $8.93.

Because of the drop in the taxable value of the city's property - to $3.67 billion from just over $4 billion last year - the city would raise $2.26 million less from property taxes under the proposed budget than it raised last year, despite the higher tax rate.

As proposed, the owner of a $100,000 home with a $50,000 homestead exemption would pay about $447 in city taxes during the upcoming budget year, up $26 from this year. That does not include taxes for Palm Beach County, the school district or special taxing districts.

The tax rate increase is part of a three-year plan to balance the budget without dipping into reserves. For the upcoming budget year, Jones proposes taking $1.68 million from reserves.

The next city budget workshop is set for 6:30 p.m. Aug. 24 in the council chambers. Another workshop will be held Aug. 27 if needed.

The first public hearing on the budget is set for 7 p.m. Sept. 3 in the council chambers.