FORT LAUDERDALE — Nobody says it’s cheap to live in Fort Lauderdale.
But if you own a home here, you’ll pay one of the lowest tax rates in Broward County.
For the 16th consecutive year, Fort Lauderdale’s basic tax rate remains at $412 per $100,000 of estimated property value — the only city in Broward to maintain the same tax rate since 2008.
Commissioners gave final approval Monday night to the city’s $985 million budget for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.
Homeowners will see their fire costs increase by $10 to $321, which will increase the city’s coffers by $50 million.
Fort Lauderdale’s total tax rate will increase to $440 per $100,000 of estimated property value to help pay off two 30-year parks bonds and a new voter-approved police headquarters in March 2019 .
Most homeowners, even those with homestead exemptions, will end up paying a little more than the previous year due to rising property values.
Fort Lauderdale saw a 12.94% increase in property values between 2021 and 2022. Over the same period, Broward County’s property tax base increased by 10.66%. The estimated value of taxable property in Fort Lauderdale reached $48.8 billion in June, according to the Broward County Property Assessor.
Fort Lauderdale expects to collect $193 million in property taxes next year, enough to cover nearly 44% of the city’s $440 million operating budget. Fire charges will net another $50 million. Various other taxes will supplement the City’s general fund by $76 million.
Next year it will cost about $150 million to operate the Fort Lauderdale Police Department; an additional $110 million a year to operate the Fort Lauderdale Fire and Rescue Department; and $56.6 million to run the parks and recreation department.
A year ago, city officials agreed to increase fire department personnel by 16 to help serve a growing city. In mid-2023, they plan to hire another 16 firefighters to help staff a new aid station near downtown.
The gendarmerie also saw its numbers increase. The department plans to hire 22 more people in the next fiscal year, including 17 sworn police officers.
Fort Lauderdale will also hire four more code enforcement officers to work evenings, in a nod to all those noise complaints that come in after 5 p.m.
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Days before the final budget hearing, Fort Lauderdale made headlines for spending $500,000 on a summer concert at Mills Pond Park.
Mayor Dean Trantalis and most commissioners say they had no idea what kind of money was being spent.
To tell the truth, they were not the ones who approved it. It was former city manager Chris Lagerbloom who signed off on the spending days before he left for a new job.
In recent days, new city manager Greg Chavarria cut the budget for next year’s Summer Jamz concert to $100,000. The August 19 event this year cost five times as much, attracting between 5,000 and 10,000 people, according to unofficial estimates.
Longtime resident Kevin Bell was furious after reading everything in the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
“I’m quite outraged by this waste of taxpayers’ money,” he said. “You’d like to think they’re doing the right thing for the general public. Now, I’m afraid there are other things we haven’t discovered.
Susannah Bryan can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @Susannah_Bryan