The Monroe County Board of County Commissioners held its first Budget Meeting for Fiscal Year 2019 on Wednesday at the Marathon Government Center. At this early stage of the process, the meeting was for preliminary discussion of the budget and no decisions are made.
County staff is working on a budget with a goal to maintain the same level of service and continue with planned capital projects and resiliency efforts while absorbing the impacts of Hurricane Irma.
Monroe County’s Director of Budget and Finance Tina Boan presented the County’s current fiscal situation. She told the Commissioners that the State of Florida has validated another $1.5 million in FEMA reimbursement for the County and the County should be receiving it soon. The County previously has received $604,000 in FEMA reimbursement. This leaves another $33 million that the County already has submitted to FEMA for reimbursement but is still waiting to have it go through the process. (After FEMA approves reimbursement for submitted projects, those “obligated” funds go to the State for its approval process before being sent to the County).
Monroe County consultant Bill Slater, with Tidal Basin, explained that there has been a “perfect storm” that has led to the slow reimbursement. FEMA rolled out a new delivery model last year just as it was being overwhelmed with submissions from several major hurricanes and wildfires across the country and Puerto Rico. The State of Florida also decided not to expedite FEMA funding and instead is requiring 100 percent validation before sending FEMA money to local governments and entities.
To date, Monroe County is the only entity in Florida that has received FEMA reimbursement from Irma.
Boan also presented positive news for the budget that comes from the Property Appraiser’s preliminary estimate that taxable property values for the 2019 Fiscal Year will be about $26.1 billion. This is an expected 5.3 percent increase from the previous year despite the destruction of more than 1,500 homes in the Keys due to Irma. New construction and rising property values are making up for the property losses.
“Six of our last nine years we have met rollback, and hence lower taxes,” Monroe County Administrator Roman Gastesi said. “I am not sure we will be able to do that this budget due to the expenses of Irma. But we are trying.”
Rollback is when the same amount of money is generated from taxes as the previous fiscal year.
The Fiscal Year 2019 Process:
June 1: Deadline for Budget Submission for Constitutional Officers
July 1: Property Appraiser Certifies Property Values
On or before July 10: Tentative Budget Delivered to BOCC
July 31: Special Budget Meeting. The BOCC certifies the proposed millage rate to the property appraiser, which is the rate that goes out on the tax bill (TRIM).
Sept. 4: First Public Budget Hearing. Adoption of the Tentative Millage Rate and Tentative Budget at the Murray Nelson Government Center in Key Largo.
Sept. 6: Special Budget Meeting. BOCC holds discussion at Marathon Government Center.
Sept. 10. Final Public Hearing. Adoption of the Final Millage Rate and Final Budget at the Harvey Government Center in Key West.
More information is available at www.monroecounty-fl.gov/budgetandfinance