- Sponsored -
Share article

Village Manager Steve Williamson on Monday proposed a $37.9 million dollar budget for 2024 that would significantly ramp up projects to fight sea level rise, but would also increase the local portion of the average tax bill by about 12.8%. 

Even with the proposed increase, Key Biscayne’s tax rate would still be the lowest in Miami-Dade County, officials noted in a 46-page presentation

Still, Williamson was cautious in describing the plan, saying it’s up to Council members to accept or modify the overall strategy. 

“It’s an opportunity for the administration and the Council to sit down and really look at the priorities of the Village and balance what we want instituted and the proper millage rate,” he said.  

The plan, developed with Council input last month, faces its first workshop meeting Wednesday. 

Assembling a jigsaw puzzle of different revenue sources, Williamson is proposing a total of $26.7 million be spent on capital projects in the 2023-24 fiscal year, with about two-thirds of that going to flooding, beach renourishment, and other resiliency projects. 

Invest in Local News for Your Town. Your Gift is tax-deductible

- Sponsored -

About $4 million will come from borrowing via the state’s low-interest Clean Water Revolving Fund. Another $6 million would come from the general fund, with other amounts coming from stormwater fees and federal and state grants. 

The budget does not propose any general obligation bond borrowing under a measure approved by voters in 2020, and officials noted there is still $91 million borrowing capacity under the Village’s debt cap for future years. 

Spending Roadmap

Williamson’s administration is planning $250 million in spending over the next 15 years on resilience projects, which are detailed for the first time in future-year projections. But recently some members of the Council have raised questions about the timetable and scope and even the extent of the sea level rise threat. A key work order remains on hold and will not be discussed until August.

The core operational budget is increasing 7% from $34 million to $36 million, which includes an estimate for wage increases. Labor talks between the Village and its municipal unions are still ongoing. Union leaders have said they want to make up for high inflation. But, despite projecting an increase of labor costs of about 6%, the net operational budget is only increasing 2.9% because of large decreases in debt service and other transfers.

This chart shows the percentage allocation of the proposed 2024 Key Biscayne Village buget (Village of Key Biscayne via KBI)

Municipal revenues are largely driven by changes in property values, and Key Biscayne budget planners are benefitting from an estimated 8.8% increase in property values for this year. Adding to that, the administration is proposing a 4% increase in the “millage” rate from last year’s level. 

Typically, however, the administration’s initial budget proposal is a starting point and is reduced based on legislative priorities.

Initial reaction to the budget was predictably mixed. 

Council Member Ed London, a budget hawk, said he understands the need to spend more on resiliency projects, but also promised to review the expenditures closely. 

“The Village is changing. Climate is changing. And the population is changing. And we have to change accordingly – but we have to do it efficiently,” London said. As for the millage rate increase, he chuckled and said “not if I have anything to do with it.” 

Vice Mayor Frank Caplan said the proposed millage increase is not a surprise, but said he will be working on a consensus that maintains excellent municipal services, but he acknowledged there will be divergent views. 

“It isn’t an easy and automatic meeting of the minds,” Caplan said.

KBI Executive Editor John Pacenti contributed to this report


Tony Winton is the editor-in-chief of the Key Biscayne Independent and president of Miami Fourth Estate, Inc. He worked previously at The Associated Press for three decades winning multiple Edward R. Murrow awards. He was president of the News Media Guild, a journalism union, for 10 years. Born in Chicago, he is a graduate of Columbia University. His interests are photography and technology, sailing, cooking, and science fiction.

- Sponsored -

Tony Winton is the editor-in-chief of the Key Biscayne Independent and president of Miami Fourth Estate, Inc. He worked previously at The Associated Press for three decades winning multiple Edward R. Murrow...