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HB proposes slightly reduced budget, millage rate

By Kathy Prucnell, Islander Reporter

In Holmes Beach, city services and the related costs are expected to remain the same under a proposed 2012-13 budget presented July 24 to city commissioners.

A $7.86 million proposed budget — lowered $805,255 from the current $8.67 million budget — was presented by treasurer Rick Ashley and the commission unanimously approved a maximum millage rate of 1.75, also on Ashley’s recommendation.

According to Ashley, the millage rate is slightly lower than this year’s 1.7553 rollback rate — the rate needed to generate the same amount of ad valorem tax revenue as in the 2011-12 budget.

“I feel confident we can continue the same city services,” said Ashley.

Reductions in the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 include not having to budget for both an assistant city treasurer and Ashley’s salary, causing a drop of $61,217 in regular salaries in the general government budget.

Ashley is retiring at the end of August.

“The one major reason the net amount decreased is what’s being budgeted for stormwater,” said Ashley.

A $900,000 reduction is the result of a completed stormwater project between 59th to 64th streets, and also in neighborhoods between 72nd and 77th streets, which also was funded in part by the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

Commissioner Jean Peelen asked whether funds will be available to help the frequently flooded area near 31st Street.

“My understanding is there is preliminary work to go ahead with that,” Ashley said. He also said the 2012-13 budget was prepared without any left over stormwater funds.

“It’s possible, but not certain” funds will remain after this year’s stormwater project closes out, said Bohnenberger. If not, he said, funds will be available in the new budget.

The new budget includes $227,905 from the city’s annual utility assessment, which is restricted to stormwater improvements.

No additional employees are budgeted, but a 2 percent cost-of-living increase will be given to employees. Ashley said.

Peelen said, “I don’t see where the raises are, except for the huge increase in public works.”

Ashley said the raise is calculated into the salary line items. He also said “for the first time in many, many years, public works asked for a new truck.”

Commissioner John Monetti said he’s glad to see the 2 percent increase because he considers the level of staff “a bargain.”

Commissioner Sandy Haas-Martens said when she was first elected to the board, the city had a 2.75 millage rate, and thanked Ashley for his one-on-one budget explanations. She also agreed the staff deserved the raise.

Peelen said, “Government employees have had as hard a time as has everyone else. I don’t think anyone else has raised their salaries in this area at all.

“I think it’s more than a generous figure. I value the employees, but I’m just saying it’s hard times for everybody,” she added.

Ashley plans to adjust the 2012-13 budget for a carryover of $513,000 in reimbursement funds for this year’s stormwater project, still to come from the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

Another budget adjustment will be a $10,000-$12,000 increase in the emergency reserve funds, “so the reserves going out at the end of the year will be a little bit more than they are going in,” he said.

Assistant city treasurer Lori Hill made the calculations for the new budget, said Ashley. Hill was confirmed by the commission June 12 to take over the treasurer’s position.

Ashley invited anyone with questions on the budget to contact him or Hill.

Commissioners set public hearings on the budget for 6 p.m. Sept. 11 and 6:30 p.m. Sept. 25.

After the public hearings, the millage rate will be added to the Manatee County Property Appraiser’s millage notices in November.

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