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Date of Issue: August 02, 2007

Next year's city budget sails through Bradenton Beach

Bradenton Beach city commissioners have tentatively approved a $2,628,996 spending plan for next year in one of the most seamless budgeting processes for the city in recent years.

Commissioners spent just more than an hour spread across three meetings on three days listening to department heads briefly describe their various budgets for the 2007-08 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.

The proposed budget is slightly down from the current $2,694,383 budget for the city.

However, based on a Florida Legislature-mandated reduction in property taxes earlier this year, property owners in the city will see a reduction in their city tax rate from the current 2.4878 mils to 2.2663. A mil is $1 for every $1,000 of assessed value of a home, less any exemptions.

City revenue comes from a variety of sources, including property taxes but also electric, telephone, water, gas and franchise fees plus, for Bradenton Beach, some grant revenue to deal with capital improvements.

It was the capital improvements program that took the biggest hit in the city’s leaner budget for next year. The current year’s capital improvement project budget was more than $586,000; next year it is just more than $123,000. However, much of the work planned for the current year has been completed.

“We’ve pretty much resurfaced all the streets in the city,” Mayor John Chappie said. He added that work on the city pier comes from a different funding category, as well as the work on streetscape projects on the north side of the city - compliments of Florida Department of Transportation - the Coquina Beach Trail - also a grant - and Coquina Beach improvements - courtesy Manatee County - had all been accomplished this year.

Still to come are stormwater improvements, which is yet another funding category, not a part of property tax levies.

Highlights of the city budget for next year include an administrative budget of $349,221, up from the current $340,845; project-program management at $122,102, down from $136,469; and city commission at $232,804, up from $230,992.

The city commission budget reflects the payment of community redevelopment grant funds, which is a special city funding category.

Also within the budget is the police department’s $866,460 for next year, up from the current $845,527; emergency management’s spending plan next year at $28,850, up from the current $26,230; and the planning department’s $339,496, up from the current $303,253.

Planning and development charges in the city are historically self-supporting through permit fees and other charges for development.

Parks department funds will be flat-lined next year. Current funds at $3,500 were deemed unnecessary for the upcoming year.

The city pier, which is a separate accounting entity within Bradenton Beach, is expected to cost the city $75,500 next year, up from the current $73,405. However, revenue to be generated from the pier lessee is projected at $96,000.

For streets and roads, 2007-08 estimated spending is at $194,450, down from the current $205,921. Stormwater expenses for next year are pegged at $150,500, up from the current $128,687, but this again is a separate fee charged residents.

Facilities maintenance costs for next year are budgeted at $148,800, down from the current $163,593; and sanitation is budgeted for $434,460, up from the current $321,200. Again, sanitation is separate from the property tax bill for residents and the increase reflects an expected 30 percent hike in garbage bills to come later this year, based on previous city commission action.

Community redevelopment agency capital projects have been slashed to zero in the upcoming year, although 2006-07 saw $261,000 budgeted.

Citizen comment was nil during the three budget work meetings last week.

Commission votes on the elements of the budget were not unanimous. Commissioner Bill Shearon voted issued a statement in which he said he would oppose all the budget elements due to it not being received by him in a timely fashion. Commissioner Michael Pierce was absent from the meetings.

Final comment on the budget plan will come in September during two public hearings, dates of which have yet to be set.