The Truth About Boca Raton Taxes

Any Boca Raton politician or elected official who says he or she won’t raise your taxes isn’t telling the truth. Honesty is my policy.

At the February 8, 2024 Candidates Forum, I pointed out to my neighbors that they should check out the truth in the City of Boca Raton’s budget at www.myboca.us. But let me direct you to https://city-boca-raton-fl-budget-book.cleargov.com/14047/long-range-financial-plan/general-fund — the Long Range Financial Plan. Here are some key statements in the LRFP:

“The LRFP utilizes a “baseline” projection model. Under that model, future revenues and expenditures are estimated based on the City’s current sources of revenue and level of service. This financial forecast shows that despite the reductions made to the City’s General Fund expenses and the slight upward trend of the City’s General Fund revenues, the current revenue base will not support the future expenditure growth of the City’s existing municipal services. That is, the financial forecast shows that without action to reduce expenses or increase revenues, the General Fund expenses will grow more rapidly than the General Fund revenues, creating a “financial gap” that will increase each year throughout the forecast period. This increasing gap would require the use of the City’s reserves to balance the annual budget, leading to the depletion of the reserves in a short‐term framework.” (emphasis added)

“In order to have long‐term financial sustainability, a focus on controlling costs and increasing revenues is imperative.”

 

“There are numerous external factors outside of the control of the City Council, which may significantly affect the City’s ability, even with a prudent and extremely conservative financial forecast, to provide the highest quality of service within the available resources.(emphasis added)

“The City will evaluate existing revenue sources for potential growth. The future projection shows that the City will need to manage priorities and provide additional resources to remain fiscally sound and financially sustainable.(emphasis added)

 

The City’s Long Range Financial Plan is replete with warning bells. While making government more efficient might result in some savings, cuts in necessary and beloved City services will hurt. The answer, therefore, is to increase revenue. “Revenue” comes from taxes. Euphemisms for taxes include the words “fee,” “permit fee,” “license fee,” “fine,” and many more.

What’s one reason Boca Raton might have to raise taxes? It’s a long story, but for the sake of brevity consider that many commercial property owners in Boca Raton (and in the rest of the USA) borrowed money 10 years ago at extremely low interest rates. In the next few years, these owners will be faced with refinancing these loans. Low inflation through most of the last 10 years has kept rents relatively flat. Higher interest rates are now the norm as are lower occupancy and higher operating costs (including real estate taxes and insurance). If owners and lenders can’t come to agreement on refinancing, all these factors are likely to lead to foreclosure. Foreclosure will result in properties trading at values below what they have been over the last decade-plus. Lower values will be reflected at the Property Appraiser’s office. Lower values with no change in the ad valorem tax rates will result in lower City revenues. Lower revenues will mean the City cannot afford to pay for all of the services it promises its citizens. To continue to provide these services the City – with the City Council’s approval – will have to raise TAXES in order to increase REVENUES.

I don’t want to raise taxes. I don’t know many people who want to raise taxes. To continue having the City of Boca Raton provide outstanding service to its taxpayers, though, the City government – with the approval of the City Council – will probably need to raise taxes in the relatively near future.

That’s the truth.

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