Bradenton Beach Mayor John Shaughnessy said the city remains in good financial shape during his state-of-the-city address at the Feb. 21 city commission meeting.
“Taxes were raised this year for the first time in many years out of necessity” he said. “We didn’t want to do it, and we took money out of the reserve to relieve some of the tax burden.”
Shaughnessy said tax increases were necessary to begin addressing neglected infrastructure needs.
“Our infrastructure is falling apart and no money was put aside in recent years to address those needs,” he said. “Now it’s time to catch up.”
The city prioritized two projects in this year’s budget to fund and complete, with plans to fund at least two projects a year going forward.
“Both of the projects we prioritized are already completed,” he said. “The emergency generator at the police station has been replaced and resurfacing on Second Street South is completed.”
The mayor said the city’s reserve fund was drastically reduced under previous administrations, “and, as mandated, those funds are required to be replaced. I believe past administrations did what they thought was best for the city and we are doing the same thing.”
He said predicting the future is impossible, but the city department heads, staff and commissioners are “working hard and doing their very best to keep Bradenton Beach the star of the island.”
Shaughnessy said the 25 city employees are doing a good job and complimented all of his department heads.
“The administration department is the nerve center of the city,” he said. “One of the most important functions is the annual audit. It is a daunting task, but they continue to get excellent ratings from the auditors.”
Shaughnessy noted that while building official Steve Gilbert is not a city employee because the city contracts its service, “Mr. Gilbert has done an excellent job for the city in transforming this department from what it was to what it is today.”
The mayor complimented his public works department, saying its employees “face different challenges every day and has to adjust to accommodate those changes, never knowing what tomorrow will bring. This department does a great job for the city.”
The Bradenton Beach Police Department has 10 full-time and six part-time officers. Shaughnessy referenced the former troubled history at Coquina Beach transitioning to a family-friendly beach as a credit to the police department.
“Our police department was instrumental in devising a plan to ensure the changes we have seen,” he said. “The county has entrusted our police department to patrol the beach, which shows the trust the county has in our department.
“As do I. They continue to offer the best possible protection and service to our citizens.”