Anna Maria eyes law enforcement expenses

Anna Maria commissioners at a budget session July 17 opted to have the mayor negotiate with the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office to find any cost cuts.

City treasurer Diane Percycoe presented the MCSO’s proposed $698,735 contract for law enforcement services for 2012-13. The $698,735 is an 8.5 percent increase from the 2011-12 fiscal year.

In Percycoe’s draft budget of $2.259 million, 30 percent is for MCSO services. But Anna Maria taxpayers are actually paying more than the nearly $700,000 in the budget to the MCSO, she said.

Percycoe said using the county’s current tax rate of 3.894 mills and with 36 percent of the city’s ad valorem taxes going to the county, Anna Maria taxpayers would pay an estimated $3 million to the MCSO next fiscal year. And that is a “conservative estimate,” she added.

The news caused concern for some commissioners, who said they are not questioning the quality of law enforcement service, just the cost.

“I want to make it clear we are not looking for our own police department,” said Commissioner John Quam. “We are just looking at the possibilities of negotiating with the MCSO” to lower costs.

Mayor Mike Selby said he would meet with Sheriff Brad Steube as soon as possible to discuss potential savings, including the officer salaries and overtime rates.

Commission Chair Chuck Webb said the city has to take a “hard look at the contract” in the interests of better managing city funds.

Commissioner Dale Woodland said he had no doubt that the $698,000 would eventually be $750,000.

Percycoe’s draft budget of $2.259 million uses a millage rate of 2.0 mills, down from the 2.05 millage rate the city approved for 2011-12.

One mill equals $1 per $1,000 of property value. A house valued at $500,000, with a $50,000 homestead exemption bringing the taxable value to $450,000, would result in $900 in city tax at the proposed rate.

The rollback rate — the rate needed to generate the same amount of ad valorem revenue as in 2011-12 — is 2.0214, Percycoe said.

That means the proposed millage is a tax decrease.

“Taxable values have increased 1.4 percent over last year,” she said, marking the first time in six years Anna Maria property values showed a gain.

Percycoe presented a graph showing the city receives 11 percent of the property tax paid by city residents. The Manatee County school district gets 50 percent and Manatee County government gets 36 percent. The remaining 3 percent goes for mosquito control and water management.

In addition to a rise in property values, there also was good news with the city’s dredging of the Lake LaVista inlet, which occurs about every 18 months.

Percycoe said Manatee County Commissioner John Chappie was instrumental in getting the project recategorized, so the city’s matching share is reimbursed.

“We no longer have to pay 50 percent,” she said.

Commissioners also discussed professional fees paid this year, particularly for legal services.

Webb noted the city had some major ordinances written and a few more need to be formalized.

“They take a lot of effort,” said Webb. “I don’t like seeing the bills that high, but until we get through this cycle, that’s just the way it is.”

City attorney Jim Dye billed the city $92,000 this fiscal year, with two months remaining. The budgeted amount for 2011-12 was $57,100.

Webb asked Percycoe to ask Dye to itemize his expenses for each city task and separate them in bills. Percycoe said she’s asked Dye to use that format, but it hasn’t yet been done.

Commissioners agreed to hold another work session at 6 p.m. July 24.

Anna Maria budget dates
6 p.m. Monday, July 30, Anna Maria City Hall, 10005 Gulf Drive, special meeting to set tentative millage and rollback rates. After the commission establishes the tentative millage rate, it may be lowered but it cannot be increased.
6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 14, budget work session, Anna Maria City Hall, 10005 Gulf Drive.
6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 21, budget work session, if needed, Anna Maria City Hall, 10005 Gulf Drive.
6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 11, first public hearing, 2012-13 city budget, Anna Maria City Hall, 10005 Gulf Drive.
6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 19, final public hearing, 2012-13 city budget, Anna Maria City Hall, 10005 Gulf Drive.

Millage rates

One mill equals $1 per $1,000 of property value.

An Anna Maria property owner with a home valued at $500,000 and with homestead exemptions of $50,000 would pay taxes on $450,000.

At a 2.0 millage rate, the city’s property tax would be $900.

At the present Anna Maria millage rate of 2.05, the homeowner would pay $922.50.

At the rollback rate of 2.0214 mills — the tax rate that would generate the same amount of ad valorem revenues as in the 2011-12 budget — the homeowner would pay $909.63.

Tax bills also would show millage rates for other entities, including the county, the school district and mosquito control.

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