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Date of Issue: December 31, 2008

Be it resolved... Island cities head into 2009

Tightening the budget is the top resolution for a majority of Americans in poll after poll taken as 2009 draws near.

“I’ve lost about $30,000 in the stock market and that’s not easy to make back for a retiree or for anybody else really,” said Tom Spinosa of Bradenton Beach. “So I’m going to pinch and save wherever I can. That’s my resolution.”

An Islander survey found that a personal goal of a majority of citizens is a public resolution for many local elected officials.

“My hopes are that we will be able to maintain our level of service,” said Holmes Beach Mayor Rich Bohnenberger. “The next budget will be a lot more constraining than the last one.”

With the nation in a recession and the state facing a $2 billion-plus shortfall this fiscal year, Bohnenberger said no doubt lean times are ahead.

“Revenue sharing is not going to be what they estimated it to be,” the mayor said, referring specifically to sales tax revenue.

“Considering the economy and all … lets hope we can get all of our goals in the budget accomplished,” Holmes Beach City Commission Chair Sandy Haas-Martens said.

She said her resolution for 2009 is to work to “hold the line on taxes, to do what we need to do without raising the millage.”

Bradenton Beach Mayor Michael Pierce agreed his city also will need to deal with budget constraints as it works on a variety of initiatives.

“I think we’re all well aware of the budget constraints, but we can move forward with grants and partnerships,” he said.

The city’s focus will be on creating a “walkable community” and “making our pier the best it can be.… We’ll continue in the direction we’ve been going. I’m actually really excited about the new year,” Pierce said.

Bradenton Beach City Commissioner Janie Robertson also expressed enthusiasm for 2009 despite the nation’s economic woes.

“What I really want to do more than anything is hone down our procedures so we save as much money as possible,” she said of her resolve in the new year.

Robertson said she also wanted to focus on several projects in 2009 — creating a dune walkover at the Gulf end of Bridge Street, improving the city’s Web site at www.cityofbradentonbeach.com, and “getting our stormwater situation under control, especially in the north part of the city.”

In the Island’s northernmost city, Anna Maria City Commissioner Dale Woodland said elected officials and staff met a significant budget challenge this year with a positive attitude.

“It’s going to be another challenge next year,” he said. “The attitude of everyone was so good this year. I want to see that attitude continue. We’ve got a tough job, but we’ve shown we can do it.”

Looking ahead to projects in Anna Maria, Woodland said securing renourishment sand for the city’s beaches would be a top priority, as well as protecting properties on the bayside from further erosion.

“Maybe we can find some kind of solution public, private or a combination of the two on the bayside,” Woodland said.

Protecting the shores, he said, “is probably one of the most important things for the city and the Island.”

Anna Maria Commission Chair John Quam added that his resolution in 2009 is to continue to “follow guidelines as set forth in the city’s vision statement to retain the character of the city, especially the single-family homes.”

Quam also said part of preserving the city’s uniqueness would be to support its defined commercial center, which consists of small businesses.