Anna Maria Mayor SueLynn presented her 2013-14 budget to city commissioners July 17, calling the proposed $3.05 million spending plan one of the largest in recent years. Revenue for the present year is $2.54 million — up from the anticipated $2.45 million that was projected when the budget was approved.
Considering the “bare bones budgets” of the past few years, the mayor said that with higher than expected revenue this fiscal year it is time to focus on stormwater drainage, maintenance and capital improvements.
“It’s no surprise, but we have a real drainage problem in the city, and it gets worse as more houses are built or enlarged. The water has no place to go,” she said.
Commissioner Dale Woodland, however, pointed out the new budget plan isn’t really that much bigger than the 2012-13 budget.
He said it’s near the current budget without the anticipated one-time $300,000 payment for a cell tower in revenues for the coming fiscal year, along with $30,000 expected as a lease payment. Also, adding to the additional revenues is the increase in city pier rent of $700 per month beginning in December.
Woodland said in his opinion the cell tower income is really “pie-in-the-sky” revenue. It may not come to fruition.
He also said the additional $31,000 from the proposed .05 increase in millage is a minimal figure. He proposed either maintaining the current millage or reducing the rate. The rollback rate – the ad valorem rate that would produce the same tax revenue as in the current 2012-13 budget – is 1.9507. Any millage rate higher than 1.9507 amounts to a tax increase.
“You know me. I’m never in favor of increasing taxes,” Woodland said.
The ad valorem millage rate is the tax rate per $1,000 of assessed valuation the city receives for property. A property owner with a home valued at $400,000 and with an ad valorem tax rate of 2.10 mills would pay $840 in property taxes to the city. That figure would not include the tax paid to Manatee County or other accessed taxes. At a 2.05 millage rate, the same homeowner would pay $820 in city taxes.
If all the anticipated cell tower revenue is taken out of the proposed budget, Woodland said it would be back to about $2.6 million, which is not much more than the $2.5 million in revenue city treasurer Diane Percycoe said she anticipated by Sept. 30. Thus, he maintained, the budget is “not so big.”
Woodland said it’s time for the city to look at revenue from people who come to the city on holidays and weekends.
“After pleading and pleading with Manatee County and the Tourist Development Council for funds and getting nowhere,” Woodland said the city should look at a daily parking fee.
The mayor defended the proposed revenue increases in the budget. “We have to plan on what’s anticipated,” she said.
She also has suggested commissioners discuss paid parking as an option to control day visitors and as a revenue stream.
Percycoe agreed that the budget is based on revenue estimates. The city’s share of county and state revenues is always an estimate at budget time.
Commission Chair Chuck Webb limited discussion on the budget because Commissioners Gene Aubry and Nancy Yetter were absent.
“We would have to repeat everything anyway,” Webb said. “We just received the budget today and we’ve got two commissioners absent, so how deep do we want to go?”
He proposed commissioners be prepared for a discussion at the July 24 budget meeting.
The 2013-14 budget shows a $55,000 drop in the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office contract for law enforcement services. The mayor anticipated a $670,000 contract, but the MCSO submitted one for $615,000 because younger deputies with less salary and benefits are assigned to the Anna Maria substation.
The budget also includes $30,000 in capital improvements for some beach walkovers which are in need of repair. The budget also contains $60,000 to build a seawall along the city property that adjoins the Lake LaVista channel.
The city plans to hire a third full-time employee for the public works department and increase staff salaries 3 percent.
The city’s $225,000 loan payment for the Pine Avenue property it purchased in 2011 is included in expenses, as is $17,600 in emergency contingency funds.
The next budget work session is 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 24, at the Anna Maria City Hall, 10005 Gulf Drive.