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Date of Issue: September 30, 2009

Bradenton Beach budget approved

Bradenton Beach’s newly adopted 2009-10 budget takes effect Oct. 1.

And the clock is ticking on the next budget go around — city commissioners want to start work on the 2010-11 budget in February.

During the final 2009-10 budget hearing Sept. 23, mayoral candidate Bill Shearon, who is challenging incumbent Michael Pierce, suggested starting even sooner.

“Don’t delay,” he said.

Shearon was the lone speaker during the public comment portions of last week’s meeting, at which the commission, with Janie Robertson absent, adopted a $2,795,096 budget and set the 2009 millage rate for the city at 2.1539 mils, less than the rollback rate. A mil is $1 for every $1,000 of assessed value of property less any exemptions.

Shearon also objected to the use of reserves to deal with a projected decline in revenue in the 2009-10 fiscal year. Commissioners agreed in July to tap reserves rather than raise the property tax rate.

He said city officials should have learned a lesson from years ago, when credit cards were needed to keep paying staff, and not dipped into reserves.

“God forbid we ever get hit with a weather event,” Shearon said.

The city plans to use $75,121 from the general fund reserves to make up the deficit between the projected revenues and expenditures in 2009-10.

The city also turned to its reserves for $75,000 in funding in 2008-09.

The budget’s revenue forecast is for $2,719,975 in revenue compared to $2,973,296 in revenue for fiscal 2008-09.

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.

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

In an effort to shrink the revenue decline, commissioners plan to meet this month to discuss policies to collect delinquent accounts and unpaid fines.

City attorney Ricinda Perry recommended a meeting to discuss code enforcement fines, as well as collections for overdue business tax receipts, stormwater fees and trash collection bills.

“This year has proved to be one of the most challenging years that we’ve had,” she said. “What we’re looking to do is get some direction from the commission on where we should go on this.”

A memo from Perry indicates about $60,000 in delinquent sanitation accounts and nearly $40,000 in delinquent stormwater accounts.