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Date of Issue: June 18, 2008

Budget cuts head to Island cities

Faced with a previously announced 10 to 12 percent decline in property values, treasurers and administrators of the three municipal budgets on Anna Maria Island - Anna Maria, Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach - are already preparing for a corresponding drop in their respective city budgets.

 Holmes Beach city treasurer Rick Ashley said he’s not waiting on July 1 when he’ll get the actual figures on property value assessments and ad valorem tax revenues, but has already begun preparing preliminary estimates based on a decline in property values.

“We’re looking at a 12 percent drop in property values, but it’s nothing serious. Our preliminary numbers will reflect the 12 percent drop, but the mayor will review, then forward the budget to the commission,” said Ashley.

Revenues could increase with a commission vote to bump up the current millage rate from 1.5989 to a higher figure. The city is not facing any mandatory budget cut as it was last year when the Florida Legislature mandated that all city and county budgets be slashed 9.9 percent.

But any millage increase is a long way off, said Ashley. “We’re looking to trim where we can. We’re still looking for ways to save money and we don’t yet have the actual revenue numbers,” he said. Revenue estimates should be available on or before July 1, Ashley indicated.

Likewise for Anna Maria, where city treasurer Diane Percycoe is gearing up for a 10 percent drop in property values.

She’ll base her initial “rough budget” on preliminary information from the Manatee County Property Appraiser’s Office, but Percycoe cautioned that a 10 percent drop in property values “does not mean a corresponding drop in revenue.”

The city has to wait for its official TRIM notice and will present that and all other budget information to city commissioners at the first budget work session set for July 22.

“We are going step by step,” cautioned Percycoe. That includes changing the budget format from its former reliance on line items to a “department driven” format in which proposed items will be placed under the corresponding department in the budget.

Anna Maria also has the option to raise its millage rate to meet any revenue shortfall. The city’s current rate is 1.7882, down from the 2.0 rate the city adopted for its 2006-07 budget.