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Palm Beach Post (Florida)

As part of its proposed $35 million budget for fiscal year 2015, the village plans to hire eight workers, maintain the same tax rate and offer a 2 percent merit raise for all employees.

"The economy is rebounding very well," Finance Director Stanley Hochman told the Village Council at last week's budget workshop.

An improving economy coupled with a boost in property values have the village somewhat bullish on modestly improving services. The village saw its taxable property values rise to more than $2 billion, up from $1.9 billion -- a 9 percent increase that will result in $167 million in revenue.

The tax rate will remain the same, at $1.92 per $1,000 of assessed property value after homestead exemption. For example, a home assessed at $135,000 will have an annual tax bill of $163.

Under the proposed budget, which starts Oct. 1, the village will hire seven workers for the Parks and Recreation Department, including a full-time general maintenance worker for Veterans Park and six facility attendant positions for Commons Park.

"There will be at least two people at Commons Park at all times when the park is open to the public," Village Manager Ray Liggins said.

The village also plans to hire a full-time geographic information system technician who will be shared by the public works and engineering departments. That worker will be responsible for helping with the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Community Rating System program, which is producing the updated flood maps.

Adding the new workers will cost the village $240,000 a year. Hochman said the village will dip into its reserves for the new hires.

Liggins said $50,000 was added under the council budget for a lobbyist to advocate for the State Road 7 expansion project and $4,000 for four $1,000 scholarships for high school seniors.

Under the village manager's budget, Liggins said he added a $28,000 proposal from a consultant the village might hire to help examine its sign ordinance. That issue came up recently after the council denied IHOP a key sign variance it requested to move into the Coral Sky Plaza.

Liggins said he didn't put anything in his budget to help promote the term-length referendum that will be placed on the March ballot. The village manager's budget would need to be modified to do that, Liggins said.

Last month the Village Council voted to extend council and mayor term lengths from two to three years.

Public hearings on the budget are scheduled for Sept. 4 and 18.

kthompson@pbpost.com Twitter: @KevinDThompson1

July 15, 2014

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