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Date of Issue: July 30, 2008

Bradenton Beach shifting funds to balance budget

“It’s all good,” Bradenton Beach Mayor Michael Pierce said of the city’s 2008-09 financial forecast.

But, he added, that’s because the city set aside rainy day funds for the drizzle that has begun.

Bradenton Beach city commissioners reviewed a draft 2008-09 municipal budget July 23 balanced by shifting money from two capital projects and dipping into reserves.

The shifting of funds is needed to account for an anticipated $171,224 drop in revenue due to a decline in property values and escalating costs, such as fuel and landfill tipping fees, said Bradenton Beach Police Lt. John Cosby, who worked on the budget with city clerk Nora Idso and deputy city clerk Christina Irelan.

They presented the proposed budget to Pierce, Vice Mayor John Chappie and Commissioners Janie Robertson and Bob Connors at city hall. Commissioner John Shaughnessy was absent.

To account for the shortfall, Cosby recommended using $125,000 from the city’s reserve. The city has about $1.6 million on reserve.

“Six or seven years ago, when things started to turn around, we really worked hard to lower the millage rate,” Cosby said. “But we also knew that the housing market would correct itself…and we put some money into reserve.”

Cosby also recommended moving $10,000 of the $22,000 in the capital projects account for improvements to Herb Dolan North Park to general project and program expenses and possible matching grants.

The commission approved that change during the meeting.

Cosby also recommended - and the commission ok’d - moving $15,000 set aside for mitigation of city hall in the capital projects plan and $3,000 set aside for a planning vehicle to pay off previously purchased police vehicles.

The proposed budget is $3,567,182.43 compared to the 2007-08 budget of $3,688,748.99.

“There are no raises for employees,” Cosby said.

Irelan said the employees are covered by a merit-based pay-raise system and cost-of-living increases are discretionary. A step-plan for raises was dropped about four years ago.

Cosby added that the spending plan increases the amount of the employees’ co-pay and deductible responsibilities for health care. The city pays 100 percent of employee premiums, but the insured pay co-pays and deductibles for actual medical treatment.

“That helped us keep our costs down,” Cosby said.

The officer also recalculated other insurance costs in the budget. For example, he said an auto policy included coverage for nine vehicles that “we don’t own.”

To save money elsewhere, Cosby suggested the commission select one primary attorney.

“We’re using two separate attorneys and we’re paying them to do the same work sometimes,” Cosby said. “We really would like the commission to pick a lead attorney.… That is a problem.”

Pierce replied, “We are working on that.”

Administrative expenses in the proposed budget total $380,655.92, with salary being the highest expense at $189,420. This budget also includes other personnel costs, as well as $28,000 in attorney fees.

Commission expenses total $195,569, which includes the city’s $150,000 investment in the Community Redevelopment Agency for historic district improvements.

The project and program manager budget total is $110,598, with salaries at $55,100. The budget also includes additional personnel costs, $4,000 in attorney fees.

The police department budget totals $875,387, with salaries at $482,300. Attorney fees are budgeted at $2,000 and costs for gas, oil and tires are budgeted at $36,000.

Cosby said all the departments are trying to cut energy and fuel costs, noting that light switches in buildings will be converted to automatically shut off after business hours.

“And the chief issued a mandate - if the car ain’t moving, it ain’t running,” Cosby added.

The city’s emergency operations budget is proposed at $23,935, with telephone operation being the highest expense at $12,000.

In the planning and development department, the largest expense is salaries and wages at $216,775, followed by attorney fees at $108,000.

The budget for facilities management includes $56,000 in salaries and $20,000 in building repairs and maintenance.

The streets and roads budget is $187,107, with salaries projected at $84,000, insurance at $11,757, attorney fees at $3,000 and gas and oli at $3,000.

The sanitation budget is $321,490, with salaries at $95,680, landfill tipping fees at $88,000, professional services at $4,000, accounting and auditing costs at $4,000 and equipment repair and maintenance at $20,000.

The stormwater management expenses are budgeted at $159,629 and pier operations at $49,337, including $2,200 for accounting and auditing, $500 for attorney fees, $5,000 for insurance, $7,000 fob building repairs and maintenance and $10,000 in administration fees.

The capital projects budget for 2008-09 is $133,174 and the Tingley Library budget is $15,457, with the largest expenses being utilities and insurance at $3,500 each.

CRA expenses are projected at $566,100, with $550,000 to be directed to payments on the loan to restore the Bridge Street Pier.

Cosby said in the budget preparations there was discussion about refinancing the pier loan but “we got such a good rate” the decision was to pay off the existing loan in the next three years.

On the revenue side, the general fund projection is for $1,131,300 and includes some franchise fees, service taxes, licenses, fees, interest income and fines.

Streets and roads’ revenues are projected at $124,500, with money coming from gas taxes and state revenue sharing.

The CRA revenue is projected at $455,000, the sanitation revenue at $438,720 and the library revenue at $14,000 - mostly from an interest-earning certificate of deposit.

The budget projects $1,278,766 in revenue from ad valorem taxes.

During last week’s meeting, the commission voted to set the maximum millage rate at 2.1539 compared to the 2007-08 rate of 2.2579.

A mill is $1 for every $1,000 of assessed value of property less any exemptions. This rate can be lowered through the adoption of the budget at public hearings on the spending plan, but it cannot be raised by elected officials.

For a house valued at $525,000 in Bradenton Beach, minus $25,000 homestead, the property tax bill from the city for the next year would be $1,076.95.

“I’m just so happy that it worked out as well as it did,” Pierce said.

“All in all, we’re not as bad off as we could be,” Cosby said, recalling tougher times when he joined BBPD 20 years ago.

“When I first got here in ’88, when we got our paychecks, they told us not to cash them,” he said.

Idso also remembered other troubled financial times when she went to work at city hall in 1999. “We were making minimum payments on the Visa,” she said.


Proposed Bradenton Beach 2008-09 fiscal year budget

Revenue/carryover by budget category

  • General fund: $1,131,300 million ($2.5 million).
  • Revenue sharing motor fuel: $0 ($11,000).
  • Gas tax: $124,500 ($122,500).
  • CRA shared revenue/Interest income: $455,000 ($610,000).
  • Sanitation: $438,720 ($439,558).
  • Library: $14,000 ($33,000).
  • Ad valorem taxes: $1,278,776
  • Reserve/CIP transfers: $140,000.
  • Total revenue budget: $3,578,296 ($3,720,658).
  • Expenditures by budget category
  • Administration: $380,655.92 ($374,720 in 2007-08).
  • Project/Program: $110,598 ($121,202).
  • Commission: $195,569 ($232,804).
  • Police: $875,387 ($877,260).
  • Emergency Operations: $23,935 ($28,850).
  • Planning: $424,474 ($405,295.65).
  • Pier: $49,337.51 ($59,500).
  • Streets and Roads: $187,107 ($189,950).
  • Stormwater: $159,629 ($150,500).
  • Facilities management: $125,769 ($148,800).
  • Community Redevelopment Agency: $566,100 ($566,750).
  • Capital Improvements Projects: $133,174 ($108,489).
  • Sanitation: $321,490 ($400,896.80).
  • Library: $15,457 ($21,730).
  • Total expenditure budget: $3,567,182.43 ($3,686,748.99).

Millage rate

  • The proposed property tax for Bradenton Beach is 2.1539 mills per $1,000, compared to year’s 2.2579.