Holmes Beach relents on boat canopies, approves budget

The agenda for the Oct. 5 Holmes Beach City Commission meeting listed just two budget items.

But Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer made a splash when he confirmed the canopies on the docks at the 63rd Street boat ramp are coming down.

Tokajer said he and Mayor Bob Johnson tried to relocate the two vessels from the city docks on Watson’s Bayou. They could not find a suitable spot so it was decided the canopies would come down, Tokajer said.

In January, the city installed boat lifts and covers at the city-owned docks in cooperation with the West Manatee Fire Rescue District. A city police boat and a fire-rescue boat are stored at the docks.

Residents at Westbay Point & Moorings, 6500 Flotilla Drive, have been asking for months for the city to remove the canopies.

“I think that’s a good compromise,” said Westbay resident Mary Giudice, whose view overlooks the boats and canopies from her condo.

Commissioners applauded the compromise, too.

“I’m so proud of our city at times like this,” said Commissioner Jean Peelen. “We find a way.”

As expected, the commission adopted its $13,423,653 budget for fiscal year 2017-18.

Commissioners voted unanimously in favor of the second reading of Johnson’s budget plan.

The only public comment came from Jim Kihm, a candidate for a commission seat in the Nov. 7 municipal election. Kihm said taxpayers should be better informed by the commission, which has budgeted unapproved projects.

Commissioners also discussed dedicating funding for dog park and skate park improvements. The budget does not earmark money for either project.

Commissioners came to a consensus they would earmark money for both projects but postponed discussion to the next work session, as well as a vote at the next regular meeting.

The budget increase is $1.069 million, or 8.7 percent, from $12.354 million in the 2016-17 fiscal year budget.

The new budget was supposed to be effective Oct. 1 but a meeting lost to Hurricane Irma delayed adoption.

The proposed 2.25 millage rate per $1,000 is the same as in the 2016-17 budget. The rollback rate of 2.0669 percent is the millage needed to produce the same tax revenue as this year, according to treasurer Lori Hill.

The tax increase is expected to produce $3,946,331 in 2017-18 ad valorum revenues, an increase of $355,773 or 9.9 percent, over $3,590,558 this year.

The city commission will next meet at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12, at city hall, 5801 Marina Drive.

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