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Date of Issue: August 11, 2010

Holmes Beach budget reserve soars

Holmes Beach has proposed $4,401,417 in reserves and unspent carry-overs for the fiscal year of 2010-11, an increase from last year’s adopted reserve of $3,597,057.

Mayor Rich Bohnenberger said the main reason that budget item is increasing is because of uncompleted projects that could not be funded. One was a stormwater project at 37th Street and Gulf Drive that could not be completed in the 2009-10 fiscal year. The Florida Department of Transportation project to build a mast-arm traffic signal did not allow the city project to proceed until the DOT project — now under way — could be completed.

However, at the city’s July 27 meeting, Commissioner Al Robinson said, “By standard accounting practice methods, we have closer to $5 million. Why is it like that? Well, the bureaucrats in Tallahassee tell you how to do your accounting, so they all have an agenda. It starts in Tallahassee and they force us to do something.”

But simply saying the city has around $4.5 million in reserve money can be misleading.

Of that figure, $241,000 is from a restricted local-option gas tax, and $419,000 is for stormwater projects.

One major improvement funded by the gas tax will be re-paving of Palm Drive from the intersection of 80th Street to Marina Drive. The paving will then continue on Marina Drive to the intersection at Gulf Drive, and finally south on Gulf Drive to Peacock Lane. The project is estimated to cost $315,000.

 A second, major improvement will provide a steel public works building adjacent to the existing building. The $304,760 project will incorporate some of the existing structures from the shop north of city hall. The existing shop will be removed.

Another $2,362,500 is dedicated to the emergency reserve fund, which is needed in the event of disaster recovery from an event such as a major hurricane.

Finally, $1,378,917 will be carried over from this year’s budget, the result of some projects coming in under budget, projects that could not be completed by the end of the fiscal tax year, bills from a project not coming to the city until after the end of the fiscal year, or unused grant money.

The city must have a final expense figure of zero in its budget, so any remaining money must carry over to the next year.