By Margie Plunkett
Delray Beach commissioners approved a tax rate slightly higher than last year’s, but hope to lower it a little by making more budget cuts.
Commisioners can still reduce the preliminary rate of $7.41 per $1,000 of assessed property value before adopting their budget. But they can’t increase it.
Town Manager David Harden recomended a rate of at least $7.59, but commissioners went with the lower limit after a great deal of deliberation at their Aug. 3 meeting. The approved rate would produce about $2 million less in tax revenue than the recommended one. Last year’s rate was $7.19.
Delray Beach is looking at possible measures to make up its budget shortfall by dipping into reserves, furloughs and even new revenue from parking meters, according to Harden. No layoffs are planned at this point. Harden has presented a possible $7 million in cuts.
During a public hearing earlier in the evening, residents asked commissioners not to raise the tax rate and to make cuts, even if difficult. “We expect our elected officials to make those tough decisions we elected you to make,” said Jayne Stroshein-Rousseau, government affairs chair of the Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches.
This year’s tax rate funds a budget with departmental spending requests totaling $97.3 million — after two rounds of cuts, according to a staff memo. That’s $624,513 over the previous budget.