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Wednesday September 10, 2003
"The Best News on Anna Maria Island Since 1992"


Anna Maria trims proposed budget to $2.1 million

Anna Maria city commissioners were so positive at their Aug. 12 budget workshop that they had reached agreement on a tentative 2003-04 budget of about $2.15 million, they canceled the third budget workshop scheduled for Aug. 19.

In Anna Maria, however, a public meeting without some nit-picking might be like McDonald's without the fries.

So it was almost no surprise that the budget nit-picking common to the workshop sessions began anew at the first public hearing on the proposed budget Sept. 4 when Commissioner Linda Cramer questioned the city paying for half the cost of improvements at the city pier to meet requirements set by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Commission Chairperson John Quam agreed, citing a recent memo from City Attorney Jim Dye that said the lease requires the tenant to pay for all improvements.

"If they are responsible, why is it in our budget?" asked Commissioner Duke Miller, who apologized to the audience for bringing up new items for discussion even after two workshop sessions.

"I am sorry, but these things do come up," he said.

Mayor SueLynn explained that the city commission last year had decided to split the cost of improvements with the lesee as a "good neighbor" gesture, even though Dye held the same opinion at that time. The cost of improvements, however, has increased since last year's estimate, she added.

Commissioner Tom Aposporos suggested deleting the amount for pier improvements and commissioners agreed.

Cramer also questioned the budgeted amount of $24,960 for a part-time code enforcement officer, saying it was her understanding the position would be combined with the building official job when that person is hired.

The city is currently interviewing five candidates for the building official position (see separate story).

Aposporos, however, disagreed with removing that item, saying the new building official should decide how much assistance he might need - either a part-time code enforcement officer or part-time administrative assistant.

Commissioners agreed to leave the money in the budget, but removed the reference to 24 hours per week at $20 per hour for the part-time position.

The commission did delete some $7,300 in health and dental insurance benefits for the mayor after learning from Dye that the city charter prohibits elected officials from receiving increased compensation while holding office.

In addition, the commission also had to strike the amount budgeted for its health insurance for the same reason, although Florida state law allows elected officials to be part of a government's health insurance plan.

"So, we would have to have a vote that city officials are eligible after they go through an election cycle," said Miller.

"Correct," said Dye.




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