Public Safety Tops List as Village Begins Prioritizing Spending Needs for Next Year’s Over $38 Million Budget | Vizcaya key
Improving traffic and safety on Crandon Boulevard, completing Paradise Park, expanding the community center, redesigning Beach Park and developing a plan to protect cyclists and pedestrians on Rickenbacker are among the challenges Key Biscayne will face for the next fiscal year and beyond.
Additionally, a group of residents have asked the village to hire a full-time special population coordinator to create programs for people with special needs, suggesting the village lacks services for toddlers, teens and adults with physical and mental disabilities.
At a budget workshop on Tuesday, village leaders got to work prioritizing spending needs for the 2022-2023 financial year. Several other hearings are scheduled for September.
The new budget will come into effect on October 1.
Tuesday’s workshop was an opportunity for village department heads – and residents – to present their operating budget needs to the council.
Most village projects are part of the five-year village capital improvement plan which is to be completed by 2028 or sooner depending on whether funds are available during that time.
For the 2022-23 fiscal year, the Village has budgeted approximately $15.8 million for capital improvement projects for the fiscal year, including designs for the Center Stormwater Pond Project. Key Biscayne K-8, community center expansion and road reconstruction needs. , such as the repaving of Harbor Drive.
Village Superintendent Steven Williams said that at the end of July, Key Biscayne would set the mileage rate for property taxes, which currently stands at 3.1.
The 3.1 rate means the Village will charge property owners $3.1 for every $1,000 of a property’s assessed value, which would fund a projected budget of $38 million, an increase of 7 % from $35 million last year.
But if council members hold the line for next year, the village would be out $1 million.
“That’s where we are now,” Williams said.
Outlining those preliminary numbers, Williams listed the village’s strengths and weaknesses heading into next year.
Weaknesses include lack of oversight and funding for Crandon Boulevard improvements, an aging Bear Cut Bridge over the Rickenbacker Causeway, and environmental changes following massive flooding from torrential downpours in June.
Among the strengths, Williams listed senior and athletic programs, as well as water and sewer infrastructure.
He said he has since been seeking funding for additional youth and senior programs, and he hopes to improve vehicular, golf cart, bicycle, pedestrian and traffic flow in Key Biscayne.
“Develop and implement for the long term,” Williams said. “I’ll bring it to you in July and move on. I’ve laid out my strategy and goals for the new year.”
The village’s chief financial officer, Benjamin Nussbaum, said the village can expect to see an increase in construction costs (30%), solid waste (19.5%) and landscaping services (14, 5%) due to inflation being at its highest since 1982 and the lasting impact of Covid-19.
Key Biscayne Police Chief Frank Sousa called for programs to educate residents and enforce scooter and golf cart safety to continue.
Sousa said Tasers and body cameras used by police needed to be replaced. By bundling them together, he can save $16,000 a year. Also, he said, more police vehicles need to be replaced due to aging.
Key Biscayne purchased 17 new police vehicles out of 38 that needed to be replaced in the past few years. Sousa is currently evaluating what type of vehicles to buy based on lessons learned from the June storm that caused flooding. He said the hybrid vehicles didn’t perform as expected in the water.
Councilwoman McCormick suggested that Key Biscayne might want to review the village’s drive-along program to reduce police vehicle mileage.
Sousa said the program is essential for officers en route to the village to respond to emergencies. “The take-out program is commonplace,” he said. “Every Miami-Dade County Police Department has it.”
Fire Chief Eric Lane called for the creation of a firefighter recruiting academy to support the department’s workforce. He said about eight firefighters, including two lieutenants, will retire in a few years and he doesn’t want to waste time finding their replacements.
“We want to prepare our staff to replace our very talented leaders when we make the change,” he said. “The department will prepare young people for leadership.”
For construction, zoning and planning, Jeremy Calleros Gauger, the department manager, said he was working on updating the village master plan based on the work of the Vision Board, upon completion of upgrades. upgraded outdoor and commercial parking and zoning, and possibly considering making the Covid-driven outdoor dining area permanent permit.
Calleros Gauger also wants to review the Village’s short-term rental ordinance to ensure landlords are in compliance.
“We are very limited on what we can do for short-term rentals, but we can apply the guidelines to ensure they are operating as a business and registered to do business for short-term rentals. “, did he declare.
Gauger said he spent a lot of time working with Miami-Dade County and the City of Miami on concepts to improve the safety of the Rickenbacker Causeway.
“It’s an ongoing effort,” he said. “Stay tuned because we’re right here.”
Parks and Recreation Director Todd Hofferberth is asking for plans to expand the community center. In the meantime, the 15-year-old facility needs roof repairs.
It also calls for better maintenance of the village’s sports grounds, the repair of all park facilities, and an increase in the quality – and quantity – of cultural events and programs.
Director of Public Works Jake Ozyman said the department is looking for a design to model the village’s stormwater system, build the first draft stormwater roads, improve traffic and safety on Crandon Boulevard, and complete K-8 center stormwater pond designs. as public access paths to Sands Beach and Island House.
He said the village might want to seek an interlocal agreement with the county for improvements to Crandon Boulevard to help with costs.
Three Key Biscayne residents whose family members have special needs said they would like the village to hire a full-time special population coordinator who understands children and adults with physical and mental disabilities and their needs. .
“The position would help them get access to the services they need,” said one resident. “Coral Gables and Doral have a similar position for their people with special needs. A community center position is long overdue.”
Another woman said her son with special needs was kicked out of the community center when he was 10 and she was not even told about the incident. Now 16, her son is still struggling at the community center, she said.
“I am asking you to authorize funds … so that people with special needs have access to the community center,” she said.
Mayor Michael Davey agreed.
“It’s something we can push for residents and mothers in our community,” he said. “I would like this to continue because we need to do more.”
Vice Mayor Brett Moss and Councilman Allison McCormick both agreed.
“Bring something into July, a program that we can start,” Moss said.
McCormick suggested that the Village may be looking to share the position with another municipality.
Key Biscayne is actively working to collect monies owed to the village by federal, state, and county agencies. fees, $2.8 million in state revolving funding, and $2 million in federal grants.
“Keep chasing them,” Mayor Michael Davey told village staff.