Miami Beach projected to have FY 2019 surplus of $16.4 million

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

Miami Beach projected to have FY 2019 surplus of $16.4 million:

Funding for Spring Break Policing still up in the air

Earlier this year Miami Beach Commissioners struggled with closing a more than $4 million budget gap for the 2020 fiscal year. Now the City’s financial fortunes have swung the other way with a $16.4 million surplus or 4.6% of the budget for FY 2019 which ended September 30.
 
In a letter to Commissioners, City Manager Jimmy Morales indicated some of the surplus can be attributed to the expenditure freeze that went into effect midway through FY 2019 when the City was facing a shortfall for 2020. Additionally, due to timing, some items are carry-overs from 2019. 

Despite the General Fund surplus, one major item is still up in the air – funding for Spring Break policing. That’s because the money for it will come from the resort tax fund which is projected to realize only a modest surplus for FY 2019. According to Morales’ letter, there is an estimated $489,000 surplus in the fund, $242,000 of which is recommended for expenditures that carry forward from 2019, $200,000 for a one-time contribution to the Miami City Ballet, and $42,000 for “one-time” expenditures in FY 2020.
 
The Administration is still working on its Spring Break 2020 plan. Former Police Chief Dan Oates estimated costs for additional police presence could be as high as $2.4 million. Commissioners approved an FY 2020 budget with a commitment to find the funds for policing as the costs become more clear.

“At this time there is a lot of uncertainty re: the potential Spring Break costs,” Miami Beach CFO John Woodruff said in an email.  “For example, we are hoping to de-escalate Memorial Day and move funding from that event to Spring Break. Also, depending on the type of Spring Break programming we have, the promoter could pay for some of the policing cost as well.”
 
Discussions are ongoing between the City and Live Nation to program 3-4 weeks during the month of March to tame some of the rowdiness of recent Spring Breaks. Commissioners agreed to provide $1.5 million from resort tax reserves for the event site, production, and daytime programming if the plan comes to fruition while Live Nation would bring the artists and handle ticket sales for evening concerts on the beach.

“By having programming, we are hoping that the $2.4 million estimate is quite a bit less,” Woodruff said. “More than likely we will wait and see what the Spring Break policing amount ends up being (while trying to minimize it) and fund it from fund balance/reserves.  We are also hoping that we get a boost to resort tax revenue from the Super Bowl and more events at the Convention Center that will also help offset whatever the costs end up being.”
 
Morales also noted in his letter that the FY 2019 budget will need to be re-balanced to account for a projected $395,000 overage in the Police Department budget due to “increased usage of sworn Police overtime to maintain required minimum patrol staffing and police visibility citywide, as well as changes in the deployment of resources during the extended Spring Break period…” The Administration recommends a “realignment of $395,000 from the General Fund Citywide Accounts budget to the Police department’s budget.”
 
Commissioners will consider the Administration’s recommendations for allocating the $16.4 million FY 2019 General Fund surplus at their November 25th meeting. They include:
  • $1.3 million to fund items that were procured but not received as FY 2019 ended.
  • $3.8 million for projects that were originally budgeted but not completed in FY 2019.
With the remaining surplus, the Administration recommends:
  • Set aside $1.3 million in Building department surplus funds that are restricted to activities related to enforcement of the Florida Building Code.
  • Set aside $2.4 million for “one-time” expenditures adopted but not funded in the FY 2020 General Fund budget including professional services to re-write the City's Land Development Regulations ($400,000), a sea level rise impact study ($300,000), continuation of the University of Miami PrEP Mobile Wellness Clinic ($250,000), City Hall security improvements ($200,000), creation of an "Economic Vitality Strategic Plan" ($200,000), South Pointe Park Cutwalk/Government Cut erosion revetment recommendations ($200,000), pruning of the Australian Pines on Pine Tree Drive ($123,000), resilience program communications ($100,000), development of a small business program ($75,000), and a list of smaller items.
  • Set aside $5.3 million to increase the General Fund Reserves. This year, Commissioners set a General Fund Reserve target of 25% of the total General Fund budget up from the current 17%. If approved, the $5.3 million set aside would increase the reserve to 21% of the current budget.
  • $1.1 million to fund the projected impact of new collective bargaining agreements with the police and firefighters unions.
  • $1,326,000 in one-time expenditures:
    • Homeless Trust: $250,000 contribution that was originally slated to come from short-term rental fines but that was put on hold when a judge overturned the City’s short-term rental laws and ruled the fines illegal. The City has appealed the decision but, in the meantime, the funds will not be released due to the uncertainty. 
    • Barclay Apartments: $215,000 for ongoing maintenance and loss-prevention activities.
    • Additional General Fund contingency of $861,000 “for one-time studies that may be required in FY 2020."
The numbers are not formally finalized until the annual audit performed by outside auditors which historically has occurred during the month of April.
 

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