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Date of Issue: July 29, 2009

Bradenton Beach to tap reserves

Bradenton Beach city commissioners agreed July 21 to tap into reserves to balance the proposed 2009-10 fiscal budget.

 The unanimous votes to use reserves followed a discussion on the economy and a projected decline in revenue for at least another year.

City clerk Nora Idso, along with police Lt. John Cosby, presented the budget and options before commissioners.

“This is one of the hardest budgets that I’ve ever had to put together,” Idso said.

Basically, Idso said, the city could either hold its millage rate at 2.1539 mills, the same as this year’s rate, and use some reserves, or the city could levy at the higher rollback rate, which is 2.304 mills, thus raising property taxes. A mill is $1 for every $1,000 of assessed value of property less any exemptions.

Neither Cosby nor Idso recommended using the rollback rate, which is the rate that would bring in the same property tax revenue from the previous year.

“We’re not asking to do that,” Idso said of the rollback option.

If the city levies the rollback rate, the local tax on a home valued at $400,000, without taking exemptions into account, would be $921.60.

If the city levies the tentative 2.1539 millage rate, the local tax on a $400,000 home, without taking exemptions into account, would be $861.56.

Commissioners agreed that it is better to use reserves than go with a higher tax rate and voted to set the tentative, maximum millage rate at 2.1539 mills.

“People out there are having a tough time,” said Commissioner John Shaughnessy.

The commission last week also voted to approve the preliminary budget, which will be presented at two public hearings in September. A budget must be adopted by the end of September, because the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

The preliminary budget’s revenue forecast is for $2,719,975 in revenue compared to $2,973,296 in revenue this year.

Revenue declines are expected in property tax collections, stormwater fees, licenses and permits, court fines and interest earnings. Property tax collections are expected to fall from $1,278,776 this year to $1,070,800 in the next fiscal year.

“That’s the economy,” Idso said.

With the decline in revenues, the preliminary budget also shows a decline in expenditures, from $3,152,125 this year to $2,795,096 in the new fiscal year.

“I’d like to thank all the departments for pitching in,” Idso said. “This is the second year in a row that the employees did not take a raise. And no one objected so that the city could stay in the shape its been.”

The city plans to use $75,121 from the general fund reserves to make up the deficit between the projected revenues and expenditures next year.

The city also turned to its reserves for $75,000 in funding this fiscal year.

The reserves “was money set aside for this,” Cosby said. “We knew that what went up was going to come down.”

Looking to 2010-11, Cosby and Idso recommended beginning the budget process as early as February.

“If things continue this way, next year there are going to be some hard decisions to make,” Idso said.

“Hopefully things will get better,” Cosby said, adding, “If it isn’t [better], there is going to have to be a combination of serious cutting … and also some raising of taxes.”

Commissioners accepted their recommendation.

“I think it is very wise that we do start looking at the budget earlier next year,” said Commissioner Bob Bartelt. “I just have no confidence in the world economy.”

 

By the numbers

  • 2008-09 millage rate: 2.1539 mills.
  • Tentative 2009-10 millage rate: 2.1539 mills.
  • 2009-10 rollback rate: 2.304 mills.
  • 2008-09 revenues: $2,973,296.
  • Projected 2009-10 revenues: $2,719,975.
  • 2008-09 expenditures: $3,152,125.
  • Projected 2009-10 expenditures: $2,795,096.
  • 2008-09 property tax revenues: $1,278,776.
  • 2009-10 property tax revenues: $1,070,800.