In Continuing Trend, Belleair Shore Drives Budget Down, Down, Down
By Leo Coughlin
BELLEAIR BLUFFS - In a world where things with a dollar sign in front of them go up, up, up things in Belleair Shore, maybe the smallest town in America, go down, down, down.
Thanks to the deft management of Mayor John Robertson and prudent and intelligent members of the commission over recent years, Belleair Shore will spend less in its budget this year than it did last year.
And property owners in the town will pay no more in taxes even though the commission last week set a millage rate of .5988 for fiscal year 2010.
That is the rolled back rate - which raises an amount of revenue equal to what was raised in the last budget season - and will bring in sufficient revenue to support a budget that spends $78,837, $10,563 less than last year.
Many in the town remember some years ago when the yearly budget was over $100,000.
Robertson's budget philosophy for his town, which runs one mile along the shore of the Gulf of Mexico, is based on determining what spending is needed and then funding that. Not raising money and then figuring out how to spend it.
One thing done in the new budget was to make no provision for adding to the town's reserves.
Robertson points out that Belleair Shore has $327 million banked in the state reserve fund.
"That's enough to maintain budgets for four years," he says. "Why put more in reserves if we don't need to do that?"
On the subject of off-shore oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico east of the area already authorized, an issue making the rounds of local jurisdictions to get opinions, the commission joined everyone else in opposing any such drilling.
Robertson pointed out that any economic benefit to the state by opening the eastern Gulf to drillers would be destroyed by the loss of tourist revenue.
Despite arguments favoring drilling, the most cogent reason opposing the drilling is that its effect in adding to supplies for the U.S. would be minuscule.
Robertson said that a meeting in the county bringing together a large group for discussion, the examination of the question was rational, analytical and thoughtful, without a lot of rancor and emotionalism.
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