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Date of Issue: September 13, 2007

Bradenton Beach: No budget issues

Bradenton Beach city commissioners tentatively approved a $2,628,996 spending plan for next year in a record-setting 14 minutes. Final ratification of the budget and tax rate for fiscal year 2007-08, which takes effect Oct. 1, will be held after public hearings Sept. 19.

Only one person spoke during last week’s meeting. Former Mayor Connie Drescher questioned the number of city vehicles that have appeared of late.

“I know we’re getting them for free,” she said, “but I wonder why there are so many vehicles that employees take home.”

Drescher also said that city residents are happy with their city garbage and recycling employees, despite the increased fees that are being proposed, adding that “no one is here but me, so everyone must be satisfied with the budget.”

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 mills to 2.2579. A mill is $1 for every $1,000 of assessed value of a home, less any exemptions.

The property tax rate represents a state-mandated 9 percent reduction from the roll-back rate.

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 $586,500; next year it is just more than $123,100. 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, both courtesy of Manatee County, had 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 funding of $3,500 was 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, the 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 balanced by 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.

Commission votes on the elements of the budget were not unanimous. Commissioner Bill Shearon voted against all the elements of the budget and tax rate.

The Sept. 19 meeting will begin at 7 p.m.