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Council to begin budget discussions

By Staff | Jul 15, 2011

Cape Coral City Council will get its first collective look at the FY 2011-2012 budget Monday, the first of at least four public discussions to set next year’s millage rate.
City Manager Gary 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, who released his proposal Wednesday, 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.
City council could adopt the budget in total, or ask for additional tweaks as the budget process moves along.
Council will discuss setting the millage Monday, before setting the tentative millage July 25.
The first public hearing is set for Sept. 8, and the final public hearing is scheduled for Sept 22. Both meetings are set for 5 p.m.
City council will likely have at least one budget workshop, but the date of the workshop, or any subsequent workshops, is unknown.
Councilmember Pete Brandt said he is looking forward to the Financial Advisory Committee’s discussion of the budget, which is set for Monday morning, prior to the council’s meeting.
Brandt said he is pleased with the work the city manager has done thus far, but stressed that the budget process is in its early stages.
Brandt said he is also happy that King brought the budget in at the current millage rate.
“I’m pleased he’s coming in with no recommendation to raise the millage,” Brandt said, adding he’d like to see a slight reduction in millage but in the very least said, “I’m adamant in trying to set the proposed millage rate at the existing rate.”
Councilmember Marty McClain said he has some concerns about the proposed elimination of 90 vacant positions.
Service levels could be effected, McClain said.
It is important to keep the millage rate the same, too, according to McClain, who said the city needs to continue to maintain current levels.
“We’re finally in a position where services have been cut back so significantly … we need to keep things where they are and look for additional efficiencies,” McClain said.
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.
Councilmember Kevin McGrail could not be reached for comment.