Key Biscayne Neighbors Association
2024 Budget: A Prudent Approach in Challenging Times
Dear Village of Key Biscayne Mayor and Councilmembers,
The Key Biscayne Neighbors Association (KBNA) has reviewed the VKB 2024 proposed budget and highlights the importance of effective and responsible financial management and requests from the Village of Key Biscayne:
- 2024 BUDGET: THE LARGEST SINGLE ANNUAL OPERATING EXPENSE INCREASE IN THE HISTORY OF KEY BISCAYNE
This largest and unnecessary increase comes at the most inopportune time for the taxpayers given the current economic situation including high inflation, property insurance premium increases of 42% on average and the highest loan and mortgage interest rates in the last 25 years
We believe it is essential to exercise frugality and prudence in managing taxpayer funds.
- ELIMINATION OF CONTINUED BUDGET INCREASES
The VKB budget has increased its operating expenses by more than 10 million dollars since 2014 (more than 1 million dollars per year in average), has carried over surpluses of unspent taxpayer monies each one of those years.
Several prior and current council members have voted against the approval of the budget increases in recent years, emphasizing the need to manage budget increases prudently.
Considering that both 2023 and 2022 budgets were approved in a 4-3 vote demonstrating that our representatives have been concerned with the continued budget increase, we recommend to address these concerns and foster financial responsibility for 2024 and beyond.
As a principle, expenses should not follow revenues increases and higher revenues do not have to imply higher expenses.
- UTILIZATION OF UNDER EXECUTED APPROVED BUDGET INCREASES
Additionally, as the budget execution in prior years has not utilized the requested budgetary funds generating surpluses and idle monies that keep accumulating (estimated current available reserves of over $20 Million Dollars plus $9 Million Dollar in Special Funds), the KBNA recommends the partial use of the mentioned unassigned reserves to reduce 2024 taxes as specifically stated in the VKB Financial Policies in the Approved Budget Book of 2023 (page 28) and the current Proposed Budget Book of 2024 (page 27):
“Surplus funds in the general fund at the end of each fiscal year not placed by the Council in a
restricted reserve fund shall be used either to reduce Debt or to reduce taxes in the next fiscal year.”
We also recommend that the administration commit to yearly efficiencies, increase productivity and cost reductions (i.e. 1-2%) as a regular yearly target.
- REVISION OF UNEXECUTED, UNDEFINED, INNAPROPRIATE, REPEATING AND LOW OR CHANGING PRIORITY CAPITAL PROJECTS:
The proposed 2024 Budget Book shows in page 130 that 20 capital improvement projects from 2023 totaling $4.6 Million dollars were not fully executed carrying over monies to 2024. Additionally, 11 new projects were included in the capital improvement list for additional $16.3 Million dollars, totaling $20.9 Million dollars for 2024.
Considering that some of these projects include:
- repeating or refurbishing of prior projects (i.e., Harbor-Fernwood traffic circle),
- projects that could be reviewed or reduced considerably (St. Agnes field lights renovation),
- projects that are the responsibility of the county (i.e., Crandon Blvd)
- overlapping projects with other projects or current consulting contracts (formulate and promote resilient infrastructure program $1.6 Million dollars and design zone 1 resilient infrastructure program $5.1 Million dollars)
The KBNA recommends an exhaustive and detailed revision of the real need of each of the 31 projects to make sure that the VKB only budgets projects that
- are the sole responsibility of VKB and of high and medium priority
- are already properly and finally designed, estimated and justified
- the administration commits to execute in full during FY2024.
We also encourage the administration to evaluate alternatives for a more efficient use of resources in these projects (i.e., painting pavement instead of installing pavers, reutilize Fire Rescue equipment on new vehicles)
In conclusion, to support our community during 2024, the KBNA proposes a budget expense plan that maintains the total approved expenditure at the 2023 level of S36.9 Million Dollars, thus ensuring that the tax burden on residents remains unchanged so that the Village can focus on beginning and completing the projects from 2023 before it tries to undertake and tax the residents of Key Biscayne for any new additional projects.
We encourage the discussion and approval of this budget proposal to safeguard the financial well-being of Key Biscayne.
Betty Sime-Conroy Susana Braun
President, KBNA Secretary, KBNA
Josie Valdes Hurtado Servando M. Parapar
Vice-President, KBNA Treasurer