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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

Woodland proposes sweeping budget reductions

Anna Maria City Commissioner Dale Woodland has proposed a number of expense reductions in the 2004-05 budget that he claims would save the city $161,000.

Woodland is already in favor of reducing the number of Manatee County Sheriff's Office deputies in the city from seven to six, a move he claims would save the city $83,000. Mayor SueLynn is opposed to any MCSO staff reduction and said such a move would only save the city about $68,000 (see separate story).

But Woodland has gone on record as opposing even the modest .1 increase in the ad valorem tax rate that the city commission tentatively adoped Sept. 13.

"We are in fact increasing taxes and reducing reserves," claimed Woodland in a letter to SueLynn, city commissioners, city staff and the MCSO sub-station in Anna Maria.

"This is a serious financial condition which requires deliberate action. If this commission does not address the problem now, the situation will only get worse. Our decisions must be based on facts and logic, not on emotion. I am in favor of 2.0 mill and a reserve of at least 35 percent of the operation budget," he said.

Woodland proposed the following expense reductions in various line items:

  • Employee health insurance $7,800
  • Employee dental insurance $220
  • Newsletter $500
  • Public works rentals $6,000
  • Wireless consultant $2,800
  • City engineer $20,000
  • City hall furniture $5,000
  • Public works lot improvements $15,000
  • Gulf Park Management Plan $1,500
  • MCSO budget $83,000
  • Pine/Crescent outfall $20,000

The commission at its Sept. 13 meeting had already agreed to reduce the amount spent on public works rentals, the city newsletter, the city engineer, and eliminated the line item amounts for the wireless consultant amount and the Pine/Crescent outfall capital improvements project.

The $8,020 reduction in employee health and dental insurance would eliminate any medical or dental insurance benefit for the position of mayor.

At the same time Woodland is against a .1 mill increase and is proposing budget cutbacks, he and resident Chris Collins have submitted a draft plan for a five-year stormwater utility fee in the city that would cost the owner of a single-family residence an average of $30 annually. Business owners would pay a similar amount, according to the document submitted Sept. 20.

The final budget hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. Sept. 27 at the Island Baptist Church.