Belleair Beach Council Hears Facts, Figures for Final Millage Rate Decision
by Leo Coughlin
BELLEAIR BEACH - With all the options now laid out, council members will be pondering the direction the city budget will take when they meet 11 days from now.
In a meeting that took less than an hour last Thursday, the City Council heard the facts on figures that will go to make up the budget from, Maria Kemp, the Finance Officer.
Of course, it would be to the political advantage of council members that the current 1.98 millage rate be kept.
But Councilmember Dick Crowl expressed concern that while holding the millage rate is a fine idea, deferred capital improvements like roads and city maintained seawalls could spell trouble by being put off.
Mitchell Krach, however, said he didn't see any major infrastructure problems and Dave Dumville, another council member, agreed.
Councilmember Stan Sofer joined those two opining that it would be nice to take care of some things of concern but such was not practical given the current economic situation and he wanted to hold the 1.98 millage rate.
All of the discussion took place without the input on Thursday of Mayor Lynn Rives, who was away. It is believed that Rives wants to maintain the 1.98 millage rate.
Kemp laid out one scenario that would keep the 1.98 rate with no employee raises and a cutback in contributing to health insurance premiums for dependents from 50 to 25 percent.
This scheme would maintain a budget of $1,943,168 and result in a $14,733 surplus. These figures represent a total reduction of $67,360 from the original budget plan.
Much of the savings came from reducing the insurance coverage on the new city hall from a full $3.5 million to $1 million. A total wipeout of the new building would, perforce, take a category 5 hurricane which is very unlikely and that kind of storm would most likely obliterate the city.
Kemp's figures showed that if 2 percent raises were given city employees, the cost would be $8,177 and leave a surplus of $$6,566.
Raising the millage rate by 10 percent - to 2.178 mills and with no raises and the cutback in insurance premiums for dependents would gain a $91,011 surplus, while if the council goes for the rollback rate, 2.3692 mills, and no raises and keeping the insurance reduction, there would be a $164,655 surplus.
The rollback rate is that which would produce the same amount of ad valorem revenue that was generated in the current fiscal year 2009 budget. Its greater number than the 1.98 rate is a reflection of how property values have sunk.
And more bad news is expected in that department with the Tax Assessor's Office estimating another 6.5 percent drop in property values for fiscal year 2011, a year beyond what is currently being worked on.
All these options and their inner variations were discussed and the trend seemed to be a desire to keep the current millage rate.
The decision will be made at the August 3 meeting of the council.
Money, the shortage of, is the problem. One possible source of revenue might be the mystery businesses of three motels in the city.
The status of the motels is unclear and City Manager Nancy McCollum is seeking the advice of the Tax Assessor's Office on the actual status of those businesses.
Return to Current Edition