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Date of Issue: September 09, 2009

Anna Maria looks to adopt slim budget

Anna Maria residents will have their chance to discuss the city’s proposed $2.086 million budget for 2009-10 starting at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 9.

That’s the date city commissioners have set for the first public hearing of what Mayor Fran Barford has characterized as a “bare-bones budget,” that provides for the health safety and welfare of the residents, but does not raise taxes.

Judging by the turnout Aug. 8 for the budget workshop, however, city taxpayers are largely unconcerned about the tax rate and spending plan for 2009-10. The reserve fund was lowered from 37.8 percent of the operating budget to 31.4 percent to maintain the 1.7882 millage rate found in the present 2008-09 budget.

One member of the public, resident and business owner Mike Coleman, attended the workshop.

A decline in revenues could have been offset by an increase in taxes, but commissioners favored using the reserve fund to keep the present 1.7882 millage rate.

City Commissioner Dale Woodland, however, has argued that the city will face an even bigger decline in revenues next year and the time to start looking to cut spending is now.

“What are we going to do next year?” Woodland asked.

He said if revenues don’t increase, the commission next year again will be looking to tap reserves for operating funds.

At the July 23 budget meeting, commissioners adopted a 1.9450 tentative millage rate. The commission goal was to work to lower that rate. The rate can only be lowered at the budget hearing, not increased.

The first public hearing for the 2009-10 budget is Sept. 9 at city hall, 10005 Gulf Drive, and a second public hearing will be held at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 22, also at city hall.