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Date of Issue: September 17, 2008

Anna Maria tax rate down for 2008-09

What if they gave a budget hearing and nobody came?

In years past, Anna Maria budget hearings drew residents and protestors like flies to a cow heap.

But times have changed.

When Anna Maria city commissioners held the first public hearing Sept. 10 of the city’s 2008-09 budget and only two members of the public attended.

Apparently, everything is right in Anna Maria as commissioners lowered taxes and the budget, breezing through the meeting with no opposition.

While the proposed 2008-09 budget calls for $3.9 million in revenues, Commissioner Dale Woodland pointed out that’s a bit misleading. That’s because the city’s $1 million line of credit for stormwater improvements is shown as revenue in the budget, along with $764,000 in grants for the project, he said.

The 2008-09 operating budget is for $2.2 million, down 6 percent from the $2.24 million needed to run the city in fiscal year 2007-08.

Commission Chairman John Quam said commissioners could approve a lower budget because the city will need less money to operate in the coming tax year. And, along with a lower budget, the ad valorem tax rate will be dropped 12.4 percent, from 2.0415 to 1.7882.

Commissioners rejected a Florida League of Cities proposal for wind insurance for the pier that would cost $60,000 annually, but did agree to Commissioner Jo Ann Mattick’s suggestion that the city form a committee to look for grant money to rebuild the pier, or to make major improvements.

If the proposed budget is approved at the final public hearing Sept. 23, the reserve fund will have $78,000, while the contingency fund will maintain about 38 percent of revenues, city treasurer Diane Percycoe said.