July 31, 2019

ISLAMORADA — Rising costs and a shortage of Hurricane Irma relief money factor into decisions to be considered by the Islamorada Village Council in an Aug. 5 budget workshop.

“We have not gotten all the reimbursements from the hurricane,” Village Manager Seth Lawless said earlier this week. “That will affect how much [the council] wants in the fund balance, and what that means to the millage rate.”

A report drafted for the 2 p.m. Aug. 5 budget workshop at the Founders Park Community Center was expected to be available Wednesday, July 31.

Islamorada council members already have established a top property tax rate of 3.2 mills, or $320 per $100,000 of taxable assessed property value, for the Truth in Millage notices. That rate can be lowered but not raised before the final budget hearing Sept. 11.

Islamorada staff plans to propose adding a new position for an additional code enforcement officer, and will outline a suggested 3.5 percent salary increase, based on a 2 percent cost of living adjustment for village employees with a 1.5 percent pool for merit increases for non-unionized workers.

The council also indicated ongoing financial support for the Freebee transportation service available at no cost to residents and visitors, but has not finalized a decision on how many hours of service Freebee will provide under a contract.

In the current 2018-19 fiscal year that ends Sept. 30, Islamorada imposed a 3.0247 millage rate, or about $303 per $100,000 of taxable property value. That generated approximately $10.3 million toward the village’s overall $42.1 million in revenues.

Other funding in the current budget comes from charges for permits and services, intergovernmental income and various enterprise funds like wastewater operations and the village-owned marina.

Expenses in the current Islamorada budget include about $5.3 million for general municipal staff operations, $4.13 million for fire-rescue services and $2.13 million for law enforcement.

Closed session

Islamorada Village Council members meet for a closed executive session at 11 a.m. Aug. 5 with staff attorney Roget Bryan on a federal lawsuit filed in March by Juan Carlos Gil under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The legally blind plaintiff, who does not live in Islamorada, contends the village’s online documents lack interpretive systems, creating “the effect of subjecting qualified handicapped persons to discrimination on the basis of handicap.”

Islamorada in April responded that “actions requested by plaintiff would result in an undue financial burden to the village, and as such are not required by the ADA. … No rule or regulation adopted to implement the ADA or Rehabilitation Act requires public entities to provide screen viewers for review of documents available on public entity websites.”

A federal mediation session is scheduled for Nov. 4 in Miami.