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Keep your eyes and ears open

By Staff | Jul 29, 2009

It’s that time of year again. No, we’re not talking about hurricane season or beating the heat or even – kids, cover your ears – preparing to go back to school.

We are talking about the annual city budget process.

Yes, it’s the time of year when our local leaders begin the long, arduous task of looking at last year’s budget figures, consider the current economic factors, project where those numbers might be in the near future and come up with a reasonable – “adoptable” – budget that will serve the constituency well over the next 12 months.

Last week, the City Council was introduced to a proposed FY 2010 budget of slightly more than $43 million, which includes a reduction in operating costs – from this year’s $33,935,639 to next year’s proposed $32,561,713, a savings of roughly $1.3 million.

That’s a pretty good start.

In addition, the proposed millage rate of 2.2808 represents a 2.5 percent cut in property taxes.

Even better.

If you will remember last year, Sanibel made a number of “11th hour” cuts and adjustments to the budget, which resulted in a savings of approximately $1.5 million. That’s not to say that something similar is expected to happen this year, however, it does go to show that City Manager Judie Zimomra and her staff have been scouring the books throughout the year, looking for ways to keep next year’s budget in line with the times.

While the figures submitted last week may still be tweaked between now and Saturday, Sept. 5, when the FY 2010 city budget hearing will go before the public at 9 a.m., the “as-presented” numbers seem to meet the city’s expectations for expenses and revenues. Whether those change dramatically between now and then remains to be seen. But the biggest impact on the proposed budget may come from you.

We encourage Sanibel’s community to take an interest in the budget process and, believe it or not, the city does, too. Make sure that you attend one – or both – of the public hearings (the second one has been scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 15 at 5:01 p.m.).

If you can’t attend either session, be sure to follow the budget every step of the way here in the Island Reporter.

You may also visit our Web site – www.captivasanibel.com – and follow the link to the city’s FY 2010 draft budget.

These are times where we should all be keeping our eyes and ears open to how your hard earned dollars are spent. Who hasn’t been keeping a tighter grasp on their wallets these days?

We should expect the same from our city leaders, shouldn’t we?

– Reporter editorial