BELLEAIR SHORE -- To paraphrase Webster, "It is a small town but there are those who love her."
If nothing else, the residents of this tiny town by the Gulf have to love the town's finances.
Their tax rate is going down. The millage rate is down -- even below the rollback rate -- less is being spent and a look at the finances appear to show some surplus in the current budget.
This year the millage rate was 1.1047. That means a homeowner will pay that much on each $1,000 of valuation (e.g., $1,000,000 in valuation equals $1,104.70 in town taxes).
With the budget now being prepared for the 2006 fiscal year by Mayor John Robertson and Town Clerk Lorraine Blankenship the millage rate is set at 0.7204 which means in the example given above the town tax would be $720.40.
Put aside the millage figures, which are a mystery to some. The savings are plainly $384.30 -- 35 percent. Even the affluent residents of Belleair Shore can appreciate that.
Careful management by the Town Commission made up of Bob Schmidt, Mary Alice Grizzle (who leaves in July because her family is moving), John Hayes and Carl Hilton along with Robertson, and the careful job done by Blankenship account for the sterling record of the town.
It appears that a surplus is running right now -- halfway thorugh the fiscal year.
The town has taken in $87,568 through March in a budget that calls for $101,220 in expenditures. The outlay through March has $33,794, which represents only 67 percent of the budget spent. What the surplus may be when the year is over is hard to tell now.
But at the present rate, town expenditures could theoretically be $67,588, leaving a whopping surplus of $33,632.
Expenditures for FY06 are pegged at $83,500 -- down 18 percent from the 2005 budget. The commission has not yet taken final action on the budget, but the workup to date will probably stand.
In a $100,000 budget, a sum like $10,000 can make an impact percentage wise. This is the case in Belleair Shore where $10,000 was earmarked last year for the town's 50th anniversary party.
That successful affair, held at Belleair Country Club May 1, cost less than projected ($7,204.36) and with that outlay absent from next year's budget it makes a favorable impact.
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