During a special commission meeting Monday night, the Oakland Park City Commission increased the costs of its fire assessment and solid waste fees for the upcoming year.
However, it will be the first time the fire assessment will have increased since 2017, and the solid waste fees will still be well below average for Broward County, according to Andrew Thompson, the city’s director of financial services.
The city’s fire assessment fee will be increased from $199 to $251 per unit; the county’s average fee is $297. There will be exceptions for low-income seniors and people with disabilities. The fee will generate $6.7 million for Oakland Park.
“Understanding that this is a significant increase for a rate that has remained unchanged for many, many years, we also introduced a new exception to the commission approved in July,” Thompson said during the city’s Sept. 8 meeting. “This remains very low for Broward County.”
The city's solid waste fee is also increasing, from $235 to $255, based on the results of a study done in 2017. Unlike many other cities, Oakland Park operates its own solid waste department and the fees will generate $2.7 million. Thompson noted that even with the increase, it is the fifth-lowest rate in the county. A resident addressed the rising cost of recycling during public comments, which Thompson acknowledged is happening, but that it was not the primary reason for the increase.
“During the past four or five months we’ve seen a favorable decline in those processing costs. They’re still much higher than they’ve historically been, but they're starting to level up more with our mainstream solid waste amounts,” he said.
In the third prong of fees passed during the special commission meeting, the stormwater assessment will stay at $84 per unit — unchanged since 2016 — and generate $3.34. This is even after the city is losing funds from the school board, which cites sovereign immunity and has been implemented statewide.
The next step in the budget process for Oakland Park is to host its final budget hearing on Sept. 22, which will finalize the millage rate, budget, capital improvement projects and more. It will be the city’s largest budget, an amount of almost $128 million, of which $63 million is for the general fund.
During its Sept. 8 meeting, the commission passed a tentative budget and millage rate decrease from 5.8910 to 5.8890. If passed, it will be the seventh reduction in eight years and the lowest operating millage rate for the city in a decade.