Belleair Beach Sets 1.98 Rate in a Careful Budget for 2008
by Leo Coughlin
BELLEAIR BEACH - The City Council settled on a 1.98 millage rate - more than 14 percent less than last year - and a budget for fiscal year 2008 at the first budget hearing August 29.
The second and final hearing will be held next Tuesday, September 11, at 6 p.m. with no changes expected.
A year ago, the City Council set a 2.31 millage rate. In July, the council set a 2.08 figure that was in line with the Legislature's mandated reduction.
The city goes into fiscal 2008 with its expenditures cut almost 13 percent (12.94 to be exact) and with very little diminishment, if any, in services.
One big item that enabled the outlays to be cut severely was switching to the Sheriff's Office for police services. The former police department, with an ever-expanding budget over the years, cost the city $598,944 in 2007 while the sheriff's contract is almost exactly $200,000 less.
Belleair Beach's budget heading into fiscal 2008 appears to be a very careful and prudent budget based on a review of the summary of revenues and expenditures.
Revenue forecast from ad valorem taxes is down 12.99 percent which almost exactly matches the cut in outlays. There do not appear to be in "pie in the sky" predictions on income for the coming year.
Even the category of "miscellaneous" revenue, which might offer a temptation to optimistically highball a figure, is, instead, more than $700 less than what was produced in the current year.
There is no income forecast for grants, a category that brought in $1,860 in the current year.
Of course, looming in the future is what may happen as a result of the statewide referendum in January that could have a dramatic effect on taxes.
So the obvious "proceed with caution" budget for the coming year makes sense. There is no "fantasy wish list" which Belleair Beach's neighbor, Indian Rocks Beach, seems to be contending with in these tough times when municipalities are more worried about providing necessary services.
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