Belleair Beach Council Weighs the Implications of Severe Financial Crunch
by Leo Coughlin
BELLEAIR BEACH - Crunch!
And to make it very plain,
That is what is going on with income, outgo with city budgets these days and it was the chief topic of discussion at Monday’s meetings – particularly the City Council work session.
The outlook is bleak.
Councilmember Dick Crowl, among the elected officials, has steadfastly taken the lead on the finance subject. His background as a lawyer is in finance, so he is well qualified.
Working with Maria Kemp, the city treasurer, they have come up with these figures, as an estimated forecast for the next three fiscal years (2010, 2011, 2101) –
Property values down 20 percent; state revenue sharing down 10 percent; state sharing of ?? cent sales tax down 10 percent; interest rates on deposited funds down 50 percent.
At the same time, estimates put operating expenses going up by at least 5 percent in each of the years.
The current budget year, fiscal 2009, is break even. The crucial problems lie ahead.
According to the financial work up, if the city budget, now at $2,202,059 should stay unchanged in its particulars and given the forecasted figures there would be a shortfall in 2010 of $342,124 – about 11 percent.
In subsequent years, the shortfall is $401,039 (keeping in mind the current budget) in 2011 (18 percent), and in 2012 the shortfall would be $467,116 (21 percent).
Possible answers are very limited. Cut expenses and/or increase ad valorem taxes. Most likely a combination of the two will have to take place.
The current millage rate is 1.98. Talked of is a possible 19.7 percent increase that would bring the rate to 2.37 mills.
That may not be as alarming as it looks at first view. The millage rate was at 2.41 some years ago and the housing boom which elevated property values (and revenue) allowed the rate to go down.
An increased millage rate coupled with the lowered property values might leave a home owner paying less money in taxes than was the case when the rate was 2.41.
Outlays now are being closely looked at and deferred unless of high priority...
The rebuilding of the Harrison Avenue bridge is going to cost $366,000 at latest estimate. That is down from the state of the art $500,000 figure that had been talked about and even below the initial $400,000 that was estimated.
With the new city hall building, upgraded audio-visual equipment is going to be needed. The council heard a presentation on this Monday and a barebones $86,500 figure was arrived at, reasonable in an area where spending $200,000 to $400,000 is not unusual.
Even given that, the expenditures are going to be done step by step with equipment being phased in over a lengthened period of time, at the advice of a consultant, Dan Foglia, who was engaged to review the needs and wants of such a system.
In other action, Rudy Davis, a former mayor, was re-appointed to the Cable Television Advisory Committee; Sandy Wisniowski was re-appointed to the Park and Recreation Board, and Michael Notaro was re-appointed to the Board of Adjustment.
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