By Joe Capozzi

The tax rate in Ocean Ridge will remain at $5.50 per $1,000 of taxable value next year, commissioners decided in July, but residents can still expect higher bills because of an 18.26% increase in property values across town. 
At budget workshops on July 5 and Aug. 1, commissioners added $250,000 for a drainage project on Harbour Drive North, $150,000 to replace the Town Hall generator, $50,584 to upgrade the town’s finance software, and $10,000 for new signage related to the Old Ocean Boulevard pedestrian safety program. 
At $10,060,329, the proposed budget, nearly 14% higher than the current year spending plan, provides for 5% raises for non-union employees. It will also raise the minimum salaries of some positions to bring them into line with salaries offered by other towns of similar size across Florida.
Commissioners on Aug. 1 debated how to provide a financial boost to eight employees whose salaries, unlike those of most other employees, were in need of a market adjustment to cover inflation. Instead of giving them an additional raise, the commission agreed to pay each of the eight employees a stipend of roughly $4,200. The salaries included those of the police chief, lieutenant and the building official.
The budget also includes $62,000 for a public works position that includes qualifications for an electrician.
The spending plan will be discussed again Sept. 6 before the final version is adopted on Sept. 19.
With a $5.50 tax rate, the owner of a $1 million home will pay $6,504 in town taxes next year, about $1,000 more than was paid this year.

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