The Palm Beach Gardens City Council unanimously voted Thursday night to approve a roughly $101 million spending plan that includes money for 24 new jobs.
The total tax rate is $5.68 per $1,000 of taxable property value. The rate includes debt service and means the owner of a house with a taxable property value of $300,000 after a $50,000 homestead exemption will pay about $11 more in taxes.
Meanwhile, the overall taxable property value of Palm Beach Gardens is $10.1 billion, a 7.4 percent increase from last year. That includes $132 million in new construction, according to the city. The rise in value means the city would get additional money if it kept the tax rate the same or even lowered it.
The operating tax rate of $5.55 per $1,000 of assessed value is a roughly 6 percent increase over the roll back rate of $5.24, which is the rate that would generate the same amount of revenue as the previous year.
No one spoke about the budget Thursday. Residents Fred and Iris Scheibl at the first public hearing urged officials to lower the tax rate, as they did for the past two years.
“You could give back a little bit to the taxpayer,” Fred Scheibl said two weeks ago. “You would have plenty to do what you need to do, and we have reserves that are quite outstanding.”
Councilman Bert Premuroso at that meeting said future reductions in the tax rate should always remain on the table, but the city needs to focus on projects that will keep infrastructure and parks reliable into the next decade and replenish personnel for current demands and future development.
Palm Beach Gardens has to maintain strong reserves that are readily available if the need arises, he said.
The city’s budget oversight committee said keeping the current operating tax rate the same is “prudent to properly service our residents” while maintaining reserves at a proper level. Future reductions might be a possibility if the city sees continued growth and increased property values, the committee wrote in its report to City Council.
The new jobs the city plans to fill include nine firefighters and a compliance manager, four emergency communications operators to handle an increase in calls and calls that are more complex, a golf pro and meeting and events coordinator at the Sandhill Crane Golf Club in advance of the new clubhouse opening, three maintenance workers for the expanded City Park, one geographic information system analyst and a media relations specialist/writer.
The cost of the additional emergency communications operators will be shared among the north county municipalities that use the same system. Palm Beach Gardens separately plans to convert three part-time positions into full-time ones: a training manager for the police tactical training facility and two permit technicians to keep up with an increased workload.