Proposed budget holds Cape’s property tax rate
Cape Coral City Manager Gary King released on Wednesday his proposed budget for the city for fiscal year 2012.
King is proposing a total budget of $445,063,873, which is a decrease of more than 6 percent from the 2011 amended budget of about $478 million. The adopted budget for the current year was approximately $444 million.
The proposed operating budget, or general fund, is $135,621,689. That figure is 1.9 percent lower than the 2011 adopted budget of about $2.62 million and a 5.8 percent drop from the current year’s amended budget.
Of the $136 million, about $112 million is operating expenditures, $18.7 million is undesignated reserves and $5.19 million is designated reserves.
King has also proposed adopting the current property tax rate of 7.9702 mills, which is approximately $7.97 for every $1,000 of taxable valuation.
The “rolled back” rate is 8.2208, according to city documents. The rolled back rate is the rate at which same amount of revenue would be raised.
By maintaining the current millage rate for the upcoming fiscal year, the city would collect 3.05 percent less in ad valorem, or property, taxes because property valuations have again decreased.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Councilmember Bill Deile said he had begun reviewing King’s proposed budget and he liked what he had seen.
“I’m please with I’ve seen so far,” Deile said. “Some of the council members made it clear to the taxpayers that we would not accept a budget that had a millage increase and he delivered on that.”
Although he was “not deep into peeling back the minutiae” of the proposed budget yet, Deile said there were some things that caught his eye. One item was the reorganization of human resources at the director level, reduction of salary grade and a requirement to report to finance.
“Which, I think, is a good thing,” he said.
Under the proposed budget, there would be a 5.8 percent reduction in work force, or about 93 full-time positions, for a savings of about $5.7 million. Some positions would be replaced by part-time, non-benefit contract positions.
This would bring the number of authorized full-time positions in the city to 1,276, the second lowest since 2004. That year there were 1,201 full-time positions, compared to 1,739 positions in 2008 — the highest since 2004.
King’s proposed budget includes the elimination of three vacant fire department positions, one code enforcement officer position, and two full-time jobs and seven contract positions at Sun Splash Family Waterpark.
Five school resource officer positions would be cut due to the elimination of school board funding for the program, along with one marine officer, two 911 operators and two telecommunicators at the police department.
Also in the proposed budget is a plan to consider outsourcing the greens maintenance at the golf course, and transferring the park ranger program from parks and recreation to the police department’s volunteer program.
Some options also are included in the city manager’s budget proposal should officials want to cut further or in a different fashion
King noted several alternate reductions that could be considered, including cutting nine public works positions, cutting the police volunteer program, and closing Fire Stations No. 9 and 10, which would include 22 full-time positions.
The Parks and Recreation Department prepared a priority list of alternate reductions for the budget. At the top of the list are closing Pop’s Cafe, Eagle Skate Park, the Tony Rotino Senior Center and Cape Coral Arts Studio, then eliminating community-sponsored special events.
Deile said another thing that caught his eye with King’s budget is that this would be the second year where no funds were set aside in the general fund for capital expenses. He said the city will have to address this at some time.
A presentation on the proposed budget will be held Monday.
“That will give us more information to work with,” Deile said.
The Cape Coral City Council is scheduled to vote Sept. 8 on the tentative millage rates and proposed budget. Once the millage rate is set, it cannot be increased, only lowered. The final vote on the rates and budget will be Sept. 22.