IRB Commission Meets Tonight as Budget Plan for 2010 is Fine Tuned
By Leo Coughlin
INDIAN ROCKS BEACH - Probably never in recent history has so much brain power energy been expended in connection with devising budgets in the local communities.
And there is no exception to that here where balancing needs and wants with available income is taking much concentration.
Where in recent years turmoil over all kinds of things were roiling the public and political waters in Indian Rocks Beach, all is quite quiet and peaceable on that front.
Looking at budget figures can be consternating and the City Commission, city manager and finance director are struggling to have comprehensive figures available for the public for budget hearings.
Those hearings are set for September 10 and September 24.
With property values being assessed lower, and figuring to go even lower, the choices are stark and obvious - cut spending or find more money. The usual method with the latter is to raise taxes, that is, the millage rate.
The commission will be meeting tonight in what is styled a "budget work session" to take up these very matters, including a discussion of the millage rate.
Also on tap will be a presentation from the Sheriff's Office, which provides police services.
Under examination has been a manning schedule that would save $140,000-plus from the current contract.
In this plan the city would have two deputies on duty for two of the three daily shifts seven days a week and one deputy on duty for the third shift, most likely during the day when more personnel outside the city is available for back up.
A complete review of the fiscal year 2010 preliminary budget is scheduled tonight in a meeting that begins at 6 p.m.
Discussions on the budget so far have produced varying estimates, ranging, at one point from a $40,000 surplus to a modest deficit.
One interesting aspect of the police coverage has been that last year's slight reduction in coverage coincided with the crime rate going down.
A key question is whether a librarian, with an $80,000 budget, will be kept on. Before the financial crunch grew to its current proportions the librarian was engaged because the city had plans to expand the current facility or put up a new building.
That is now out of the question and some wonder about keeping the librarian when perhaps a part-time hourly employee, with volunteers, could take care of library needs.
In recent action the commission has moved toward becoming the Local Planning Agency, supplanting the Planning and Zoning Board.
The budget workshop held July 9 was attended by only one citizen, one observer pointing out that the session was competing with "the Homeowners Association's monthly drink-a-thon."
One interesting development has been the commission's agreement to discuss moving the city's general election time to November (which Largo did in 2006) and extending commission terms by one year to three years.
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