Holmes Beach proposes $15M budget, $2M spending increase

Times are good in Holmes Beach, as evidenced by a proposed new $15.45 million budget.

The proposed budget reflects an increase of more than $2 million in spending. The 15.1 percent boost nearly doubles the spending increase approved for the current fiscal year.

The commission adopted a Hurricane Irma-delayed $13,423,653 budget for fiscal year 2017-18, an increase of $1.069 million, or 8.7 percent, from $12.354 million in the 2016-17 fiscal year budget.

At the July 10-11 commission budget workshops, treasurer Lori Hill detailed where $2,028,156 in revenue could come from and where it might be spent.

Three new staffers could be hired under terms proposed in the $15,450,809 budget being considered by the Holmes Beach City Commission. The budget — in the form of an ordinance — will have two public hearings and two votes before the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

If approved, Police Chief William Tokajer will have $100,000 for a license-plate recognition system and building official Jim McGuinness will have $8,000 to purchase two drones to enhance inspections.

“Drone inspection technology is here,” McGuinness said.

The new gear and employees will be paid for by projected revenue increases.

Property tax revenues are projected to top $4 million, an increase of $309,512 or 7.8 percent, from $3,946,331 to $4,255,843.

The city proposes spending $400,000 on amenities at city field with a relocated and enlarged dog park, new concrete skatepark, new bocce ball and pickleball courts, shade structures, expanded off-street parking and Birdie Tebbetts baseball field would become a large multi-use field.

Earlier this year, auditors warned factors could cut into city revenues, such as legislative proposals involving business tax fees and vacation home and communication service taxes.

Holmes Beach already is feeling the pinch of rising insurance costs as it litigates $25 million in Bert Harris claims, Hill reported.

Holmes Beach projects insurance costs of $309,500 compared with $293,500 for the current fiscal year. Employee life/health insurance expenses will go from $12,090 to $38,135 in the proposed budget.

Holmes Beach also seeded a Bert Harris contingency fund with $500,000 from rollover revenues in the proposed budget, in addition to two $1 million insurance policies maintained with the Florida League of Cities, according to Hill.
“Insurance costs really went through the roof this year,” noted Commissioner Carol Soustek.

The Hurricane Irma cleanup in 2017 was an unbudgeted expense, but the Federal Emergency Management Agency is expected to fully reimburse the city at a time as yet undetermined.

Commissioner Jim Kihm repeated his complaint that spending totals are not sufficiently detailed. Hill said she would break out more information per his requests.

The proposed 2.25 millage rate amounts to a tax increase, thanks to rising property values.

The rollback rate, the millage needed to keep taxes for homeowners, as well as city revenue and spending the same as the current year, is 2.1062.

The millage rate is the amount per $1,000 in property value used to calculate taxes.

The city commission will next meet at 5 p.m. Tuesday, July 24, at city hall, 5801 Marina Drive.


Holmes Beach budgets at a glance
Budget: $13,423,653 (2017-18) – $15,450,809 (2018-19)
Reserves: $6,021,479 (2017-18) – $7,062,232 (2018-19)
The fiscal year is Oct. 1-Sept. 30.
Source: Holmes Beach treasurer Lori Hill