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Meaningful changes must be made

By Staff | Sep 10, 2009

To the editor,

Where is the austere City of Sanibel budget?

For months I have been hearing from officials at City Hall that they were preparing an austere budget that recognized the deep recession. So I was surprised when I reviewed my property tax notice to see that the city portion of the taxes were set to go up 5.9 percent – with no change in assessed value – based on the council-approved millage rate of 2.280. On another property I own, the increase is even higher, at 7.5 percent.

Most other taxing authorities – with the notable exception of the public schools – are holding their portion of taxes to the level of the prior year.

While a number of steps have been taken by Sanibel’s city government to reduce expenditures, they are clearly not sufficient to hold the line at the prior year’s levels, again based on level assessments. I urge the council to further reduce budgeted expenditures to meet that goal.

To accomplish this it seems to me that the largest budget items – salaries and benefits – must be reduced, either through staff reductions, furloughs or salary decreases. Furthermore, meaningful changes must be made in the General Employees Pension Plan, which had a very substantial increase in cost.

Finally, fees at the Recreation Center – especially for use of fitness equipment – should more nearly match those in the private sector.

Jim LaVelle