By: Sharon Aron Baron
In a city with one of the lowest millage rates in Broward County, the City of Parkland is proposing to increase taxes by 20 percent to help pay for the additional school resource officers along with other improvements.
Including cities like Lauderdale-by-Sea, Hillsboro Beach and Oakland Park, Parkland has one of the lowest millage rates in Broward county at 3.978 percent. If the increase is approved, residents would be looking at a new rate of 4.8 percent.
William Rousseau, an eight-year resident of The Landings who worked for the City of Fort Lauderdale for 30 years, said that every time Fort Lauderdale proposed raising taxes, there were notifications.
“There was nothing,” he said. “I didn’t notice this [increase] until I received my TRIM notice.”
Rousseau began reviewing his taxes line-by-line and discovered that although the market value on his home went up five percent, there was still a millage rate increase in Parkland.
“I was stunned,” said Rousseau. “We have a low millage rate in Parkland, but our homes are worth more. The average priced home is $625,000. You have million dollar homes and you have $250,000 homes. So taxes are based on our assessed value.”
He said that there was already a half millage rate at Broward County Public Schools to be used for school security among other things.
“Why are we being charged both by the city and the school board for school security, primarily SRO’s?”
In an online discussion about the tax increase, former candidate for mayor, Brian Rosaler, brought up a 2016 campaign mailer when he ran against Mayor Christine Hunschofsky where one of her campaign promises was “protecting Parkland taxpayers” with low taxes.
“I think it’s totally hypocritical,” said Roussau, who also fought against the charter school. “She ran on the platform of keeping taxes low and keeping the vision of the city.”
But things changed after the February 14 school shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas. According to City Spokesperson Todd DeAngelis, a large portion of the increase would go towards public safety.
“We’ve increased the number of SRO’s (school resource officers) at all public schools located in Parkland. In all, there are eight positions being added in police services, two sergeants and six deputies. There are also eight firefighters/paramedics being added this year. We are also proposing security upgrades to city facilities.”
He added one of the city’s biggest needs is field space.
“So many of our residents are engaged in youth sports and athletic leagues, we could never have enough fields. We’re hoping to add two practice fields at Pine Trails Park.”
Proposed capital projects include a significant expansion of the Parkland Library—which will include a full renovation to the existing portion of the library. And they are seeking to install a traffic signal at the intersection of Nob Hill Road and Hillsboro Boulevard.
A first reading for adopting the 2019 millage rate and budget will be held at city hall on Wednesday, September 12, at 7:00 p.m. Residents are allowed three minutes to speak in the public comments portion of the meeting.