Indian Rocks Beach Turns Commission Meeting Into Budget Workshop
Commission goes against staff recommendations in setting millage, police service and budgets
By Bill Lopez
INDIAN ROCKS BEACH - In another marathon commission meeting, India Rocks Beach citizens confronted commissioners over city finances and the cost of services charging mismanagement and fiscal irresponsibility.
Commissioners reviewed and approved staff recommendations for the fiscal 2009 budget including specified millage rates and police services but then decided to change the millage rate and the proposed level police services.
They received considerable input from citizens in attendance and discussed the merits of alternative millage rates and the level of police services for several hours before passing a motion to alter the initial staff recommendations.
These changes require that the budget be recalculated to show the changes in millage revenues and the additional cost of police services before a final budget is accepted for the next fiscal year that begins October 1.
During the past two years, the city experienced increased cost in sewer and waste disposal service while taxable valuations of property in the city declined. Property values in 2007 amounted to $1.186 billion and decreased by 11% to $1.054 billion this year resulting in less property tax revenue. At the same time, millage rates in Indian Rocks Beach have declined over the past several years from a high of 2.5 in 2002 to 1.6 in 2008.
To deal with declining property values and higher costs, the commission settled on a millage rate of 2.0 for the next fiscal year increasing revenues from property taxes from $1.6 million to approximately $2.1 million.
Indian Rocks Beach Historical Tax Information
Property Value and Tax Revenues
Source: City of Indian Rocks Beach
Indian Rocks Beach contracts with the Pinellas Country Sheriff Department for police services. This year that contract provided six deputies with relief and two deputies per shift 24 hours per day for seven days per week. The cost for this level of service for 2009 would be $858,181.
At the request of commission, the staff recommended a modified service plan that would reduce coverage and decrease the cost of police service to $715,431. In reviewing that level of service, the commission listened to several pleas by citizens to maintain a higher level of police coverage.
A motion was made to adopt a third option that calls for five deputies with relief and one deputy with no relief providing two deputies per shift for five days per week and two deputies per shift for two shifts and one deputy for the third shift for the other two days. The commission approved this at a cost of $803,638 that added $88,000 to the budget.
Staff will recalculate the budget in light of the amended revenue and expense projections estimated to be $6.6 million and $5.3 million respectively.
Contact Bill Lopez at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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