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Council hiatus ends

By Staff | Jul 14, 2012

After five weeks away, the city council returns to formal business on Monday when it will hold a workshop meeting in council chambers in City Hall.

Of course, it’s not as if council hasn’t been working. Mayor John Sullivan said everything felt the same.

“Getting back to work isn’t really what it is. We just didn’t have meetings,” Sullivan said. “Aside from there being less reading, it’s a normal day.”

Monday’s agenda doesn’t appear to be anything that will keep council in chambers until midnight. However, it does have some significant items for the elected board to discuss.

Most important, perhaps, is a discussion on the ad valorem millage rates for next fiscal year, which staff recommends remain at 7.957.

The rollback rate, which would be the rate to bring in the same dollars as last year, is 7.7391. That is because of the 3.83 percent increase in property values and the estimated $2.4 million more that will result.

A mill is $1 for every $1,000 of assessed property value.

The discussion will mostly be a reminder to council of the deadlines it has to meet in reference to the “not-to-exceed,” or working, tax rate, which is the rate council decides upon that cannot be raised once approved.

“It’s the same discussion we have every year about the dates of the hearings and to send the millage rates,” said Councilmember Rana Erbrick.

The council is required to set the not-to-exceed millage rate and send the documentation to the Lee County Tax Collector and property appraiser no later than Aug. 6.

The staff also recommends public hearings on Thursday, Sept. 6 and Sept. 20 at 5 p.m., so as they not conflict with other local meetings.

City spokesperson Connie Barron said staff wasn’t ready to comment on its plan until after the meeting.

“We want to council to refer to the city manager’s budget in regards to the lack of funding for capital needs in the past and how we’ll get that funding in the future,” Barron said.

Barron said she hadn’t spoken to council to get a feel for its opinions, since they have been on hiatus. However, a rise in the millage rate is a non-starter for some.

“I won’t vote for an increase in any tax,” Sullivan said.

“My goal is to make sure everyone stays employed and not have a tax increase,” Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz said.

Erbrick wasn’t as blunt, only saying that not raising the millage rate was a step in the right direction.

“The not-to-exceed rate we have is a good starting point. We’ll go through the process before we set the actual rate,” Erbrick said.

Among the other items on the agenda include discussion on the annual storm water assessment, the East-West Interlocal Agreement, and initial resolutions establishing the terms of assessment for lot mowing services within the lot mowing assessment areas and of solid waste.