Broward County’s budget process for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 is already underway. This means that the Office of Management and Budget, the Constitutional Officers, and all county agencies are preparing their annual budgets for FY 2018. On March 7, 2017, the Board of County Commissioners held a pre-budget workshop to discuss preliminary General Fund projections for the upcoming year. The Office of Management and Budget presented a preliminary General Fund forecast which provided for a net growth available for county and constitutional offices of 4.9% above the FY 2017 Adopted Budget.
This was based on no increase in the millage rate, limited growth in sales taxes, and limited property tax information available at that point in the fiscal year. Additional budget workshops, which will provide more precise numbers, will be held over the next few months. The budget timeline for FY 2018 will conclude with two public hearings in September 2017.
For FY 2017, I spearheaded a millage rate decrease and the County Commission was able to reduce the millage rate by 1% (from 5.723 in FY2016 to 5.669) which provided for a FY 2017 budget of approximately $4.7 billion. Of that amount, approximately $2.74 billion is used for the operating budget (to annually support ongoing services and programs), $1.22 billion for the capital budget (funds put aside for construction and infrastructure projects), and $745 million for the debt service budget (funds used to repay bonds issued to pay for construction and infrastructure projects). There are a variety of funding sources that fund the Broward County Budget. The General Fund ($1.2 billion) is supported with property taxes and other revenues to fund programs that are not self-supporting, such as libraries, parks and the Constitutional Officers. It is important to note that nearly 50% of the revenue in the General Fund goes to the independently-elected Constitutional Officers, primarily the Sheriff, Supervisor of Elections and Property Appraiser. The Enterprise Fund ($1.9 billion) consists of programs that are self-supporting without general revenue subsidies, such as the airport, seaport, resource recovery facilities, and water and wastewater facilities. The Other Funds ($1.6 billion) portion of the budget consists of self-supported agencies with dedicated taxes and fees, such as the Tourist Development Fund or the County Transportation Trust Fund.
One of the largest contributors to the county’s overall budget is ad valorem property taxes. The Broward County Property Appraiser establishes the value of property and exemptions, and also prepares and certifies the tax roll. The Board of County Commissioners, and other taxing authorities, set the millage rates, which are the rates at which property is taxed. In order to calculate a property tax rate, you can multiply the taxable value of the property by the millage rate and divide by 1,000.
In the month of June, the Property Appraiser was able to provide the board with preliminary numbers of the county’s taxable value. These numbers are then finalized in July. The preliminary June 1st estimate provided by the Property Appraiser for FY 2018 is $177.3 billion, after adjustments by the Value Adjustment Board (VAB); this is a 9.3% increase from FY 2017. The overall General Fund Outlook as of June 2017 is a maximum appropriation increase of 6.3% for operations if there is no millage rate reduction.
However, as your County Commissioner it has been my goal to cut your taxes. To do this I have always advocated for the need to reduce the millage rate for Broward County residents. Looking at the FY 2018 budget, it will require a $9.5 million reduction from property-tax supported budgets to reduce the millage rate by 1%. Providing I have the support of the rest of the County Commission, this reduction will still provide Broward County Government with sufficient funds to run the necessary services for our residents while also providing a financial relief for residents in Broward County. This is why I believe that with this reduction we are able to cut taxes for residents and return some of your tax dollars back to you, the people, who know the best way to spend it for the needs of your families.