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First budget hearing produces some good news for Sanibel residents

By Staff | Sep 16, 2015

There was some positivity being passed around in the Sanibel City Council’s first tentative budget hearing Saturday, as the highlights hit included the millage rate budgets at a rolled-back rate has no tax increased proposed on residents, while the property values on the island increased by 4.89 percent.

Some better news for the general fund also included the transportation fund will become fully self supportive, mostly due to the $1.5 million budgeted from the City’s portion of the Causeway toll gains. Last year, the first year Sanibel collected Causeway revenues, added up to $1.4 million.

It was reported to the Council in the tentative budget, that $420,000 will be recouped back to the general fund because the transportation fund is self-sufficient.

Another general fund saving will come with beach parking funding full supporting the pay for the Sanibel traffic aides, as well.

The tentative budget is poised to be $56,023,903 for the fiscal year 2016, down from the fiscal year 2015 amended budget of $57,342,273.

The budget proposed rolled-back millage rate of 1.9139 is set and cannot be budgeted to go over that mark, while it was reported taxable property values increased 4.89 percent in the 2015 tax year to $4,511,881,958.

The Sanibel taxable property values was at a 10-year high in 2007 when it hit $5.20 billion, while its lowest was in 2012 at $4.08 billion.

The tentative 2016 budget is $23,993,805, which is a 2.12 percent decrease from the 2015 amended budget and a 13.58 percent decrease from 2007 amended one.

There is $5.89 million in reserves and $3.56 million in ending fund balance.

Mayor Kevin Ruane proposed to defer the phone system replacement and upgrade, while keeping the website re-design in the tentative budget.

Councilman Chauncey Goss also recommended to to close the special revenue funds, which was money donated to the City through bequeaths or wills.

“The City shouldn’t be administering the funds,” Goss said. “These are two great (funds) from Harriet Spoth and Father Madden, though.”

It was suggested by City Manager Judith Zimomra was to allow a non-profit organization administer the funds.

“It’s not in our best interest to be the administrators for money which are private donations,” she said.

The final budget hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 22, starting at 5:01 p.m.