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City seeks to trim millage rate

By Staff | Sep 14, 2012

TIFFANY REPECKI Left to right, Sanibel Vice Mayor Mick Denham, Mayor Kevin Ruane and Councilman Doug Congress discuss the city's tentative budget and millage rate during a public hearing Saturday

The Sanibel City Council tentatively set the 2012-13 millage rate at 2.1398, with a total budget of approximately $37.88 million on Saturday at the first of two public hearings scheduled.

The council voted unanimously to set the rate and budget, while directing city staffers of its desire to

see the millage rate reduced to 2.100. Staffers were directed to make the necessary adjustments to the

budget at a rate of 2.100 to be presented at the next hearing on Sept. 18.

The 2.1398 millage rate is .53 percent less than the roll-back rate, which is 2.1511. The roll-back rate

is the millage rate that generates the same amount of revenue as the current millage rate.

  • “I want to take our tax rate back to last year?’s, and I think we can even get a little bit lower,”? Mayor

Kevin Ruane said, noting that the tentative rate can only be lowered once it is set. “?We can go lower, we just can’?t go any higher.”

Councilman Doug Congress suggested the rate of 2.100, a difference of about $162,500.

“?If your property values drop, I don’?t think we should ask the taxpayers to pay more money,”? he said.

Ruane added that the city council?’s budget priorities should be keeping taxes low for Sanibel residents,

paying off the city?’s debt and maintaining adequate levels of fixed reserves.

“?What we?’re doing now is consistent with what we did last year,?” Vice Mayor Mick Denham said, adding he would like to see more of the focus on paying down the debt. “?’I?m just not sure which debt we should pay down first.”

For fiscal year 2013, Sanibel’?s taxable property value is about $4.08 billion, which is a 1.89 percent

decrease from the previous year. The city’?s 2012 property value was approximately $4.16 billion.

The tentative budget of $37.88 million is $9.8 million lower than last year?’s adopted budget due to the city budgeting $3 million to pay down pension plans? unfunded actuarial accrued liabilities in 2012.

In the 2012 adopted budget, there was $5.8 million for disaster and environmental initiative expense

that is not included this year, and capital expenditures are also budgeted $1.26 million less for 2013.

Projects budgeted for completion this year are the Dunlop-Wooster shared-use path, Dixie Beach

Boulevard shared-use path, replacement of the Periwinkle Way box culvert, replacement of the Lindgren Way box culvert, Tarpon Bay Road project, and restrooms at Bowman?’s Beach and Lighthouse.

The city will invest $400,000 in repairs to the Center 4 Life building on Library Way, along with

$118,834 on playground equipment, security video and drainage maintenance at the recreation center

and fields.

At the hearing Saturday, the city council directed staff to put together a proposal outlining how the center?’s revenue funds would be allocated. Approximately $440,000 would be put into a sinking fund, while about $300,000 would go toward debt and approximately $260,00 would remain in reserves.

The council voted unanimously on the motion, and one resident spoke on the issue.

“?I want to give you all a high-five,”? Steve Maxwell said. ?”I think you’?ve come up with a good

comprehensive plan in terms of hitting all three points.?”

The tentative budget includes about $25.34 million for operating, $1.93 million for capital and $10.61 million for enterprise funds. City salaries remain flat for the fifth year, and there are 114 full-time employees.

The police department would reinstate a major position, eliminate a lieutenant position and add a sergeant position under the proposed 2013 budget. The planning department would experience a restructuring through the cutting of one administrative secretary and adding a planning technician.

The governmental funds revenue is budgeted to be about $16.80 million, with $86,537 more in ad valorem tax receipts, and changes in other taxes, like local option gas taxes, a $26,602 drop in license and permit fees, a $32,486 jump in service charges and $7,455 more in intergovernmental revenue.

The tentative budget increases sewer fees by 1 percent, but does not included 3 percent reclaimed water rates indexing. Residential curbside solid waste rates will drop by 3 percent, while commercial rates will decrease by 1.6 percent and commercial dumpster rates will experience a 5.8 percent dip.

On Saturday, the city council also voted to finalize its goals for the 2013 budget. The proposed goals outlined continue with the city?’s redevelopment work plan, including moving forward with the success and stability of the commercial district, promoting long-term financial stability for the city and its residents by keeping taxes low and paying down debt, and improving water quality.

“If we look at our mission statement, it?s condensed,” said? Councilman Marty Harrity.

He explained that it covers community mindedness and financial and environmental responsibility.

“?I think we?’re spot on,”? Harrity said of the goals.

The proposed goals were approved by a unanimous 5-0 vote.