KEY WEST, FL – The Monroe County Board of County Commissioners adopted a $411.5 million budget for Fiscal Year 2019 – $66.7 million for Capital and $344.7 million for Operating – on Monday night at the Final Public Hearing. This culminates a months-long process with five public meetings.
The adopted budget also includes $81.6 million for the Constitutional Offices (Sheriff, Clerk of Courts, Tax Collector, Property Appraiser, Supervisor of Elections and Judicial).
This budget largely reflects the impacts of Category 4 Hurricane Irma, which struck the Keys on Sept. 10, 2017, and affected the entire County. The County is estimating $125 million in Irma-related expenses, including $36 million in emergency expenses that already have been paid, and tens of millions more needed for long-term recovery.
The budget is supported by many sources of revenue. Property taxes (ad valorem) will provide about $90.8 million for this budget.
The County-wide millage rate is 2.6957, which is the same rate as last year. For a homesteaded home, in which the taxable value can only go up a maximum of 2.1 percent, the increase would be about $19 for a $350,000 home.
The aggregate millage rate is 3.4330. It is 5.86 percent above rollback (meaning the rate is generating less total revenue for the County than last fiscal year).
With an average 6.2 percent property value increase, the aggregate millage rate generates a total property tax levy of $90.8 million, an increase of $5.9 million over FY 2018. This $5.9 million increase is budgeted for:
$2.5 million increase in the General Fund: most of this replenishes the General Fund’s fund balance, which was depleted to pay for Irma emergency expenses.
$800,000 increase in Lower and Middle Keys Fire and Ambulance Fund: supporting an increase in fire fighter salaries. (This increase was approved last year, right before the final adoption hearing for the FY 2018 budget). The County also faced a second, smaller disaster, a week-long brush fire on Big Pine Key in April 2018 that further stressed the Fire Rescue budget.
$368,000 in the Unincorporated Parks and Beaches fund: supports an increase in park operations
$2.3 million increase in Fine and Forfeiture and Road Patrol funds: supports an increase in law enforcement and detention center functions. This includes an average 9.3 percent pay increase for Monroe County Sheriff’s Office deputies and sergeants (and a 2.1 percent COLA increase for all other MCSO employees).
The proposed budget absorbs the impacts of Irma, while continuing the daily operations, program enhancements, and capital projects and improvements. These include: a new Plantation Key Courthouse and Jail Complex, a new Marathon Library, improvements of Rowell’s Waterfront Park in Key Largo; operations at the newly renovated Bernstein Park on Stock Island; road alignment project at Higgs Beach Park in Key West; canal debris removal and restoration Countywide; land acquisition; and maintenance and upgrades to County roads and bridges.
The County has worked diligently to secure state and federal grant funding to assist with all aspects of hurricane recovery. Monroe County will receive $36 million for emergency work and $29-50 million in permanent work from FEMA. Monroe County, and its municipalities, also will receive $162 million in other federal assistance for housing recovery, mitigation efforts and hurricane marine debris cleanup. In state assistance, Monroe received $5.9 million for an Emergency Operations Center and $15 million in funding to the Florida Keys for affordable housing construction.
The budget includes a 2.1 percent cost of living adjustment (COLA), based on the Consumer Price Index, for County employees. It does not include any performance-based merit increases for employees.
The tentative FY 2019 budget and other financial information is available at www.monroecounty-fl.gov/financeandbudget. The final adopted budget for FY 2019 will be posted soon.