As a city commissioner for the vibrant community of Wilton Manors, I find it both my duty and privilege to weigh in on our city's financial management. We proudly state that "life is just better here," and the decisions reflected in our 2023 budget are a testament to this motto.
It is noteworthy to mention that our total millage rate, inclusive of debt service, has seen a commendable reduction from 6.0524 to 6.028. This decrease is a result of a diligent effort to minimize our debt service while ensuring that the operating millage rate remained stable at 5.8360. For a city that provides an array of high-quality programs, services, and state-of-the-art infrastructure to our 12,000 cherished residents, this rate is impressively modest.
One of the significant reasons we achieved these numbers was our collaborative approach as a commission. Determined to maximize value for every taxpayer dollar, we undertook a rigorous review of our budget. I personally read every one of the nearly 400 pages in this year’s budget and identified a significant portion of the more than half a million dollars of expenses we deemed unnecessary and subsequently cut. Cuts the commission made included the elimination of redundant staff and consultants.
Compared to our neighbors in Oakland Park, with their 6.47 millage rate, you might be surprised to know our overall millage rate is 7% lower. It's important to remember that Oakland Park, with its larger base of residents and landowners, has a broader net to spread its costs. I believe our residents experience a quality of life that matches, if not exceeds, what residents of nearby cities enjoy.
When evaluating a city's budget, it's crucial to bear in mind the diverse needs of all residents, not just a particular group. In Wilton Manors, our community is a mosaic of interests. Some prioritize parks, others champion road maintenance and infrastructure, and yet others advocate for arts and environmental concerns. Balancing these preferences is no small feat, but it is a challenge we embrace to ensure every voice is acknowledged.
Our decision on the K-9 grass installation at Colohatchee Park serves as another example of our forward-looking approach. This turf, despite an initial higher cost, promises long-term savings and reduced maintenance downtimes, highlighting our commitment to balancing immediate expenditures with future savings. There are, of course, dozens of specific line items like this one that at first glance may seem wasteful until you’re aware of all the details behind them.
It's also crucial to point out that while we have worked diligently to keep taxes low, the city constitutes less than a third of the overall tax bill. Our city's proactive financial responsibility has enabled us to lower the overall millage rate, whereas the County and School District have both experienced overall millage rate increases.
In conclusion, the 2023 budget embodies our commitment to Wilton Manors and was made possible thanks to a tremendous number of hours invested by the resident-members of our Finance Advisory Board (FAB) and our staff, led by our Finance Director Pennie Zuercher. Together strive to serve with our residents' best interests at heart, balancing current needs with long-term financial sustainability. I am honored to be part of a team that promotes robust dialogues and well-considered decisions. Together, we strive to ensure that in Wilton Manors, life remains better for everyone.
I am always available to discuss any budget concerns via
- Chris Caputo, Wilton Manors Commissioner