The Key Biscayne Neighbors Association (KBNA) held its first meeting on June 27th, with more than 50 neighbors showing
The Key Biscayne Neighbors Association (KBNA) held its first meeting on June 27th, with more than 50 neighbors showing up. Among them, Councilmember Ed London, and former Councilmember Ignacio Segurola.
During the meeting, Segurola made a presentation on the Village of Key Biscayne budget, stating to the assembled neighbors that a lack of detailed information about the proposed budget makes it difficult for Council to perform proper oversight. Segurola pointed out to those present that in years past there had always been at least two budget workshops but that this year and last year, since Manager Steve Williamson was hired, that number had been reduced to only one budget workshop.
Furthermore, Segurola showed the attendees that in past Budget workshops the Council had available detailed budget proposals with line-item breakdowns, comparisons to previous years for each item, year-to-date expenditures for each item and the proposed percentage increases or decreases for each item so that the public and the Council could intelligently analyze the proposal.
This year Segurola characterized the only information available as a “glorified PowerPoint presentation.” A copy of the Village’s actual proposal can be found here.
The proposed property tax increase was a main point of interest to the neighbors at the first meeting.
Segurola characterized the proposal as “excessive,” while attendees raised questions about specific items proposed by the Village Manager, including $2.5 million for the field of St. Agnes Church and a $50,000 cost to review age-appropriate recreational activities at Beach Park and the Harbor Pocket Park.
Some of the highlights of the proposal that Segurola pointed out were:
- The Village seems to continue its practice of over-budgeting and over-taxing residents on a yearly basis so that it can continue to rollover yearly surpluses into the General Fund, a practice that has spiraled out of control with no end in sight;
- The millage could be decreased to 2.9839 and still generate the same or more revenue for the Village as last year;
- This notwithstanding, the Manager proposes that property taxes be increased by double digits given the appreciation in properties in the Village and the revenue increases he is requesting from the Council;
- The Manager wants to hire a new Emergency Management Coordinator with a salary of $180,000.00, a role that has been fulfilled by the Fire Chief without incident or additional cost since incorporation;
- The Manager wants to “hire a contractor or employee to manage athletic program” at a cost of $200,000 per year, a role that has been adequately fulfilled by the Parks and Recreation Department;
- The Manager wants to “hire a Community Coordinator to oversee broad community events and programs” at a cost of $120,000 per year, this vague new position would presumably manage roles that have previously been fulfilled by various departments and individuals;
- The Manager wants to spend $25,000 to “understand and address changes in property and flood insurance markets,” something that can be accomplished by calling your insurance agent;
- The Manager wants to “improve traffic flow on Harbor Drive between Crandon and Fernwood,” a road that belongs to and is maintained and paid for by the County and not the Village, at a cost of $750,000;
- The Manager wants to “align service fees [charged by the Village to residents] to consumer price index/standard business practices,” ignoring the actual cost to the Village and creating ever-increasing fees for residents;
The proposed property tax increase was a main point of interest to the neighbors at the first meeting. Both Segurola and London characterized the proposal as “excessive,” while more questions were raised about other items proposed by the Village Manager, including $2.5 million for the field of St. Agnes Church and a $50,000 cost to review age-appropriate recreational activities at Beach Park and the Harbor Pocket Park.
During the meeting, invited leaders from the Coral Gables Neighbors Association explained to attendees how they successfully organized their community to improve effectiveness and offered support to KBNA.
KBNA urged attendees to get the word out about upcoming budget deliberations in front of Council, including the next Council meeting on August 29, 2023, the First Budget Meeting on September 12, 2023, and the Second Budget Meeting on September 26, 2023, when the final millage rate will be decided and a budget adopted.