The County Annual Report is a yearly progress report of accomplishments, services provided, goals achieved and strides made on behalf of the people of Broward County. It’s based on the current Mayor’s agenda and the Board of County Commissioner’s Vision, Values and Goals.
Broward County Mayor
It is my honor to deliver this year's State of the County. It's a report card of how far we have come in achieving the goals we set to enhance and maintain quality of life for our nearly 2 million residents. I am proud to report that the state of Broward County is strong.
County finances are strong with a fortress balance sheet, ample reserves and a high liquidity position. This year the board approved a $6.9 billion balanced budget in addition to funding a high level of necessary services without raising the millage. The budget puts reserves aside to respond to any negative future trends.
Beyond the operational budget, Broward has invested in new shovel-ready capital construction projects to provide services our stakeholders have come to expect from our high-performing organization.
I am extremely proud to report we increased pay levels and benefits for the more than 6,000 employees who keep Broward County up and running. We increased living wage and benefits for all contractual service providers and employees by a record amount.
This year our Human Services Department distributed in excess of $53 million to approximately 5,000 Broward households on the brink of eviction, keeping families off the streets. They provided assistance to over 14,000 residents in need of transportation, meals or childcare.
Human Services continues to recruit landlords to support county affordability programs. This year the County Commission budgeted and awarded almost $60 million to the affordable housing trust fund. We received federal and state housing grants to support many projects. We continue to spearhead new efforts for new affordable housing units. By providing more options that are affordable for residents, we not only help people in need but stabilize the County workforce. Human Services helped over 11,000 Broward veterans get a combined $11 million in benefits and services. The impacts of all these programs and services can't be understated.
Our County unemployment rate is 2.8 percent compared to 4.8 percent this time last year. People are back to work. Local companies are hiring, and new companies are jumping on board to do business in Broward County. The Office of Economic & Small Business Development and our partnership with the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance has produced positive results, bringing numerous companies to locate in Broward and expand their businesses and operations here. Big names in many diverse industries announced relocations to Broward this year: American Queen, West Marine, El Al Israel, North Atlantic Airways, CIG Financial, Icon International. The list goes on and on. People in companies want to be here and expand in Broward County.
Our major economic engines are thriving and are back to or exceeding pre-pandemic levels. Disney Cruise Lines will make Port Everglades its second home port, bringing economic benefits and prestige to Broward County. As passenger cruising numbers improve, Port Everglades is set to be at the forefront of that industry. During the year we hit record cargo volumes with trade growing in new directions and markets including India, Greece, Turkey and East Asia.
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) continues an upward trajectory. Total passengers using our airport was more than 30 million people, up 23 percent versus 2021. International passengers increased 62 percent year over year, and domestic travel is up by 16 percent. This year we added new lounges, restaurants and entertainment experiences throughout the airport. FLL, once regarded a lower cost alternative to Miami International, has truly come into its own and is now the airport of choice for leisure business in both domestic and international markets. The Board also improved the initial planning and programming phase for an Intermodal Center and other capital improvements.
Our Visit Lauderdale team is working hard to market our destination. We are exceeding pre-COVID numbers and Tourist Development Council budgets are dramatically increasing. All the new travelers brought jobs and more economic activity to the area. New hotels are being built in Broward County this year with more on the way. Visit Lauderdale unveiled a new brand campaign: “Everyone Under the Sun." The campaign reflects Broward's welcoming vibe and inclusive communities.
This year, revenue from projects with Certified Business Enterprise (CBE) goals doubled from 2021. Projects funded by the one penny surtax increased $55.9 million this year. CBE increased 38 percent from the prior year, a true testament to keep those dollars in Broward County. Payments of $67.8 million were paid to CBE certified firms working in the hotel and Convention Center expansion. Broward County takes great pride in helping small businesses as we know that it creates jobs for local communities, giving everyone the opportunity to succeed.
This year we broke ground on two major projects. One reinforces our commitment to mental health and human service; the other is a commitment to democracy itself.
We began construction on a new two-story, 20,000-square foot Nancy J. Cotterman Center. Broward County and the Supervisor of Elections (SOE) broke ground on a new SOE office. The centrally located, 160,000-square-foot facility will combine election facilities located here and in Lauderhill, to provide better technology, transparency and accessibility as we prepare for elections in the future. It's been a long time in the making, and we look forward to opening in time for the 2024 presidential election.
Major financing and bond programs were signed to complete a new Convention Center hotel and new wastewater improvements. Bond programs allow the county to achieve millions in tax savings that go back in the budget to help more people in need.
Broward County began the PREMO Transit Study relating to the implementation of bus rapid transit light rail and new technologies. We approved the Commuter Rail Project south of the New River. The Broward Commuter Rail will provide services between Broward and Miami-Dade in the near future. Public travel on roadways went electric and we expanded the bus fleet to 44, bringing us closer to zero emission buses by 2035.
Broward County is looking for new opportunities and ventures to encourage the digital economy. We opened the Alan B. Levan|Nova Southeastern University Center of Innovation. At the Innovation Center, people with bright new ideas can create, develop, mature and market new products and services. New companies stay here and provide to the local economy.
The Broward Film Commission is flourishing. This year the Film Commission issued permits with over $100 million in local economic impact, creating over 10,000 jobs for cast and crew members. It's a strong start-up that will keep growing as we join with our Broward County cities. We know Broward County is truly ready for its entertainment close-up.
Our apprenticeship program continues to flourish and we continue to lead the way in this area, preparing the workforce for high-paying jobs that don't require a four-year college degree.
Broward County continues to make great strides advancing climate mitigation adaptation actions to ensure resilience of the economy. During the last year the County invested in renewable energy to include large-scale solar projects. We continue to work to address solid waste recycling, looking to get ahead of this critical issue and need.
We endorsed a resolution to join global Race to Zero campaign to cut carbon pollution in our operations in communities toward 2050, and we put funding in place to get to this goal. Even with action on carbon pollution, flooding and sea level rise remain a concern. Following years of intense advocacy, led by the County Commission, Broward County is able to celebrate significant progress towards achieving resilience improvements and milestones. We are pleased to celebrate Broward hosting the regional climate leadership summit.
Our award-winning park system saw increases in attendance and parks continue to innovate new ways to play in Broward County. More than 750,000 people went to a local park last year. Everglades Holiday Park's $15 million in improvements were a major renovation throughout the park. The American Society of Civil Engineers named Everglades Holiday Park as its Project of the Year.
The Broward Commission may differ in opinions on issues, but we come together as representatives with a desire to serve the public. Thank you to the 31 cities, business communities, Chambers of Commerce, educational institutions, faith-based communities and spirit of the residents for contributing to the great County we live in. It's been a privilege to serve as your mayor. I look forward to returning as a proud resident of District 3 representing Parkland, Coral Springs, Tamarac and parts of North Lauderdale. I look forward to welcoming a new Mayor and Vice Mayor, and pledge to them and all of Broward County I will do everything in my power to assist them to make their year as successful as mine.