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It’s a problem not every town has, but Key Biscayne is opting to split a $6.5 million surplus between a number of wish-list items, while earmarking some funds to offset millions in expected stormwater spending. 

The extra cash comes from a variety of sources, including $1.8 million in extra interest income, intergovernmental income, franchise fees, and half a million in above-expected property tax revenue. 

But that’s not all. Several Village departments have spent less than forecast, including $1 million between police and fire departments. Public Works, Parks, and the manager’s office also all spent less than projected. “We underspent about 5% of what we had budgeted,” said Chief Financial Officer Benjamin Nussbaum. 

With a full wallet, the Council then voted to allocate $2.4 million from the surplus to these and other projects.

  • $1.7 million to put artificial turf on the St. Agnes playing field 
  • $93,500 to repair the nonfunctional elevator at the Village Council Chamber 
  • $285,000 to complete the first phase of renovations for the Beach Park
  • $236,400 to transform the Village Council Chamber into a “community theater” (not including annual operating costs)
  • $75,000 for fulfill matching grant for planting trees under County “Neat Streets” program
  • $50,000 to repair community center roof leaks

That left about $3 million left to spend.

Manager Steve Williamson recommended leaving the “reserve” amount untouched, a sum equal to about 50% of one year’s annual operating budget, mostly as a hedge against a potential hurricane. Critics, however, have called such a large reserve unnecessary and say the money would be best returned to taxpayers.

Mayor Joe Rasco instead proposed that the reserve amount be left at its current level —  $20 million —  which he said was “adequate.” The remainder, about $3 million, should be transferred to the 2025 capital budget and be applied to future stormwater projects. 

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“Have that money available to help reduce whatever future debt we’re gonna get to help reduce the tax burden to the residents,” Rasco said. After a brief discussion, the Council voted to accept the mayor’s suggestion unanimously. 

While the Village staff works on next year’s budget, a major milestone takes place next week: the taxable value estimate from the Miami-Dade Property Appraiser. The estimate forms the basis of property tax calculations for Miami-Dade County and all of the municipalities. 

Last year, Key Biscayne’s tax base shot up 9.7%, fueled by the hot real estate market. The preliminary estimate is issued June 1. 

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Editor-in-Chief

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.

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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...