By Mary Thurwachter
Town Council members adopted a $20,372,098 budget for fiscal year 2019 and kept the current tax rate — $3.50 per $1,000 of taxable value.
During Lantana’s final budget hearing on Sept. 26, Mayor David Stewart said the $3.50 rate represents a 6.31 percent increase over the rollback rate of $3.30. The town is expecting property tax revenues of $3,416,290, an increase of $238,457 compared to this year’s $3,177,833, according to Town Manager Deborah Manzo.
The Palm Beach County Property Appraiser says the town shows an 8 percent increase in the value of taxable property, from $951.4 million to $1.03 billion.
“Over the last decade, the town experienced tremendous losses in revenue,” Manzo said. “We’re finally recognizing revenues similar to pre-recession levels. Property values have dropped from a high of $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2007-2008 to a low of $678 million during fiscal year 2012-2013, slowly coming back to the current proposed valuation of $1 billion for this budget.”
The town’s tax rate remained consistent during those 10 years, which resulted in significant reductions in property tax revenues, Manzo said. Last year was the sixth year where values had increased.
“Other revenues are also returning to their pre-recession levels,” she said.
Lantana continues to be financially healthy and stable, thanks to the town’s conservative approach to government, she said.
Projected general fund revenues for Lantana include $560,000 from the 1-cent sales tax increase (although that money can be used only for infrastructure such as roads, bridges and drainage, and amenities such as parks), $568,000 from grants, plus a $100,000 transfer from the town’s insurance fund.
Health insurance rates for employees will likely go up, but dental insurance rates remain stable.
The budget includes a 2.4 percent cost-of-living raise for town employees and merit raises up to 5 percent based on annual performance evaluations.