City meets goals in final $510M budget

Port St. Lucie’s budget staff was given three goals when crafting this coming year’s budget – lower the tax rate, pay down debt, and maintain the city’s level of service.
Mission accomplished.
However, despite the lowering of the property tax rate, residents can expect to see a larger tax bill from the city. That’s due to an average 11 percent increase in property values.
The City Council held numerous meetings, including two retreats, a workshop and two public hearings prior to finalizing the $510 million budget and tax rate.
“This reduces the millage (property tax) rate,” said Mayor Gregory Oravec at Monday night’s public hearing. “We continue to pay down debt.”
He said the budget allows the city to set aside more funds to keep up the trend of paying off debt, as well as ensures the city has the resources to remain the safest large city in Florida.
“This doesn’t happen by itself,” City Manager Russ Blackburn said of achieving the council’s goals. He gave a nod to the budget department’s staff and the various department heads who helped in the process.
“The better economy helped to address” some of the challenges the city has faced, Blackburn added.
Looking ahead, Oravec told Blackburn that he’s already anticipating the Winter Retreat at the end of the year to see just how much more the staff can get done.
The final millage rate is 5.1807 – or $5.18 per $1,000 tax assessed value – plus the voter approved Crosstown Parkway debt millage of 1.2193. The aggregate millage is 6.4000.
The budget calls for hiring 27 new full-time-equivalent employees, including two police officers, increasing the annual stormwater fee by $5, and increasing water and sewer rates by 1.5 percent. A round of golf at the city golf course will increase by $1.

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