Bradenton Beach Commissioner Gay Breuler said during a July 9 public works budget discussion that “our infrastructure … is looking shoddier and shoddier and I think that’s an insult” to city staff.
Infrastructure became a primary topic in budget talks. Commissioners will set the tentative millage rate July 25, which determines how much the city receives in property taxes.
Public works director Tom Woodard submitted proposed budgets for the Historic Bridge Street Pier, streets and roads, facilities management and stormwater management.
With the pier to undergo reconstruction sometime after the budget is finalized with Community Redevelopment Agency funds, the proposed 2012-2013 pier budget is $1,700 more than last year’s $32,600 budget. The pier budget does not include the CRA expenditures for the reconstruction.
But contracts for the project are in the pier budget.
With contracts needed for the construction project, attorney fees in the pier budget doubled from $500 to $1,000, while the biggest increase was utilities — budgeted at $7,000 last year — up $2,000 to $9,000 in the new budget.
The proposed streets and roads budget increased from $180,016 to $191,401. The stormwater management budget proposal increased from $200,058 to $203,080 and the facilities management budget increased from $124,507 to $133,599.
The biggest increase in the stormwater management budget reflects a proposed pay raise of 3 percent for city staff in salary, insurance and retirement contributions.
The facilities management budget includes a $5,000 increase from $10,000 to $15,000 for building repair, and reflects new carpet for city hall offices.
The largest increase proposed in the streets and roads budget is for operating expenses. Woodard has increased this budget from $9,000 to $15,000.
“Operating expenses have raised because infrastructure is requiring more maintenance,” said Woodard, who was asked to compile a priority list for roadwork, as commissioners eye infrastructure improvements with an emphasis on roads.
“And put a timetable on them in which we can approach” the street repairs said Commissioner Ric Gatehouse.
Commissioner Jan Vosburgh noted Woodard previously budgeted more than he used for some items, and asked if the director could find any reductions.
“I’m comfortable with what I’ve submitted,” said Woodard. “It’s at the commission’s discretion, of course, but I need that cushion for when things come up. Examples are the seawall that broke apart at the end of 11th Street and we got into an issue with an underground water pipe we had to fix on Church Street.”
Woodard said it’s better to budget the money to address emergencies than to ask commissioners to pull money from the general fund.
Vosburgh had the same issue in the facilities management budget, where she felt the building repair line item might be “padded quite a bit.”
Woodard said, “It goes back to infrastructure and covers city hall, the police department, public works, the library and the rest rooms and showers at the pier. You see $15,000 there, but if we had another issue like this year, where we have to replace two air conditioners, that’s going to be most of that $15,000.”
Mayor John Shaughnessy said there was a lot in the current budget that was out of the city’s control.
“Things like the repair of equipment and the cost of fuel, which affects everything,” he said. “You have to budget it over a period of a year, and nobody knows what gas is going to cost next month.”
Shaughnessy said the commissioners are stewards of the city and it is the citizens’ right to complain.
“But I’d rather have them complain about the budget than complain about why their streets are never being repaired,” he said.