While the message in much of the country is of higher taxes, deficit spending, and spiraling crime rates, we are fortunate to have the opposite of all these in the City of Boca Raton. In September, we approved our city budget for the coming fiscal year from October 2022 to September 2023. I am pleased to share that, yet again, Boca Raton has one of the lowest property tax rates of any full-service city in Florida. Our rate is less than half that of West Palm’s or Miami’s and lower than nearby cities: Delray Beach, Deerfield Beach, Boynton Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, Hollywood, and the other comparable ones. Of course, most people would not trade our quality of services, parks, and amenities for the ones in those cities. In fact, for the tenth year in a row, our city’s property tax rate has only decreased or stayed the same.
I’m proud to have voted for consistent reductions in the rate and never for an increase. Unlike the federal government, our budgets must be balanced, and we maintain healthy financial reserves to guard against disasters and downturns in financial markets. Our strong reserves also ensure we have funds to take advantage of opportunities – like the rare moment we seized to bring a Brightline high-speed rail station to Boca Raton later this fall.
Above all, Boca Raton remains a safe and livable city, thanks to the best-in-class public safety professionals. In the last few months, I’ve traveled to four of our largest American cities (not on the taxpayers’ dime). In each one, people warned me about areas downtown where it was not safe after dark – areas that should be part of prime tourist activity. I was disheartened to see tent villages in parks that I used to see as thriving public spaces. The degradation of the quality of life in these American cities is beyond saddening. Boca Raton is a stark contrast – as crime rates have been down over the last four years from what were already 40-year lows before that span. We have the safety we need, the peace of mind we want, and the caring first responders we expect.
In recent issues, I’ve discussed some of the goals that came out of our strategic planning sessions on maintaining a healthy economy and infrastructure. We all charted visions of enhancing our vibrant and sustainable city. In our recent budget, we funded several initiatives in this area. We are working to enhance safety for pedestrians and bicyclists and to decrease the number and severity of crashes. In the coming months, FDOT is due to open a new diamond diverging interchange at Glades Road and I-95. The new design is focused on reducing left turns, making traffic move faster and more safely. We also allocated some funding to expand the art in public places program and proceed with our sustainability action plan by further recycling in public areas.
In light of rising inflation and the money supply from the federal government, we are working on plans to take a regional approach to the cost of housing. We are looking at working together with nearby cities to ensure more attainable housing within the region. Other cities can provide options for housing that will still serve our employers, and my discussions with other mayors reflect what we know – home prices are a regional issue that requires a regional strategy. We look forward to discussions through a working group throughout the area.
To close out on costs, our city is mindful of the pinch we are feeling in pocketbooks. Our water and sewer rates are far lower than nearby cities, compounding the value that our residents receive compared to other areas. In fact, some of the nearby cities mentioned above have rates four or five times higher than ours! We keep a close eye on keeping costs low and money in your pockets – where it belongs.
We are fortunate that with our efficiently run and successful city, we can focus on providing services effectively and plan to avoid the challenges that too many other cities are facing. I am running in the upcoming March 2023 mayoral election to help see more of these goals to completion and keep working to raise and exceed expectations for what our great city can be. I would love to hear your thoughts on what we can do together to reach our goals. Please share your comments, by email at email@example.com, or on the web at singerforboca.com, and stay connected for more news @ScottSingerUSA on all social media platforms.