Mayor Marty Kiar delivered the 2016 State of the County Address on Tuesday and says the County’s economic outlook is strong, stable and filled with “optimism” as we head into 2017.
The outgoing Mayor noted that in the past year, Commissioners dropped the property tax rate, opened new County buildings to better serve the public and completed a number of projects and programs aimed at strengthening the economy and protecting the environment.
“Broward County had the highest annual job growth rate in Florida. We added 8,700 jobs in trade, transportation and utilities. The financial services industry added an additional 3,500 jobs in the past year. Overall, job creation grew by 4.4 percent,” said Mayor Kiar. Unemployment was also lower than the year before, and at 4.6 percent is the lowest in the tri-county area.
At the end of this fiscal year, the Broward Commission cut the property tax ad valorem rate by 1% to give homeowners with a homestead exemption a tax break. The Commission also approved an additional $25,000 homestead exemption in order to help low income senior citizens.
“The balanced Fiscal Year 2017 budget totaled $4.7 billion dollars with major future investments planned to expand and improve the Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport and Port Everglades and finance numerous capital projects that will provide jobs for years to come and increase our tax rolls,” said Mayor Kiar.
Passengers arriving and departing from Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport grew 8.7% in the first six months of the year with an estimated 29 million people expected to travel thru the airport by year’s end. Emirates Airlines and British Airways will soon be offering flights from Broward County.
“The first scheduled commercial U.S. flight to Cuba in more than 50 years took place on JetBlue to Santa Clara this year and soon 100 weekly flights to Cuba will be offered on four different airlines, more than any other airport in the United States,” said Kiar.
Broward County’s Port Everglades set new records twice this year with more than 55,885 cruise passengers travelling to and from the seaport in a single day. On the cargo side, Port Everglades again exceeded one-million T-E-U’s for the third year in a row, maintaining its status as Florida’s number one container Port.
The overall success of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention Center and Visitors Bureau continues to create new jobs in Broward County and contributes billions of dollars to the local economy. In 2016, Broward County had the highest hotel occupancy in Florida during the first six months of the year. For the months of May, July and September, Broward had the highest hotel occupancy in history. Broward bed tax collections increased 6.2% year-over-year to nearly $61 million.
“We also have a lot to forward to as Broward County has been chosen to host the World Boxing Convention next month, the Governor’s Conference in 2017 and the South Florida region will once again host the NFL Super Bowl in 2020,” said Kiar.
Other noted accomplishments include the opening of the $16.5 million Animal Care and Adoption Center. Groundbreaking for the $20 million Broward Addiction and Recovery Center and completion of the Pembroke Road/I-75 overpass connecting the cities of Miramar and Pembroke Pines.
The $55-million shoreline protection program added 750,000 cubic yards of sand to widen and protect beaches in Pompano Beach, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea and Fort Lauderdale. Commissioners also approved the PACE program to provide residents with financial assistance for energy related home improvements and approved the Climate Change Action Plan to prepare Broward County for the future economic, environmental and social impacts of climate change.