Delray commissioners cut shuttle, scale back tax hike further

By David Sedore, Palm Beach

DELRAY BEACH — Pencil it in. Delray’s property tax rate for the upcoming budget year will be 7.19 mils, or $7.19 for every thousand dollars in assessed value.

City commissioners informally agreed to the rate during a workshop meeting Tuesday evening after chopping one of the city’s three shuttle buses, making several smaller cuts and agreeing to transfer $500,000 from reserves. They’re expected to finalize the rate after a public hearing on the budget scheduled for Sept. 22.

The rate represents an increase over this year’s 6.39 mils, or $6.39 per thousand dollars in assessed value, but less than the preliminary rate of 7.3833 commissioners set back in July.

“My goal was to get under 7, and I’m admitting it ain’t gonna happen,” Commissioner Adam Frankel said. “I think we can do better than 7.3 or 7.38. I would support 7.19. To me, it shows we’ve made cuts, that we’ve been responsible. That’s a number I don’t like, but I could support it.”

To balance the budget at 7.19 mils, commissioners had to come up with about $650,000 in some combination of budget cuts and additional revenue.

They agreed to ax one of the city’s three downtown shuttle buses after being assured that the remaining vehicles could handle daily pickups of commuters from the TriRail station on Congress Avenue. That move sliced $158,000 from the budget; shifting $500,000 from reserves, a move commissioners previously agreed to make, balanced the budget.

How the rate increase will affect individual property owners will depend on a variety of factors, including how long a property has been owned and whether its market value has fallen. Many homeowners will see their tax bills fall even with the rate hike, while others will see an increase even if the value of the property has dropped.

“Does everyone understand we’re going to be doing this again next year?” Mayor Woodie McDuffie said. “I hope everyone sees we don’t take this lightly, and we don’t spend their money foolishly.

“We’re going to be challenged again next year.”

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