Holmes Beach leaders talk new fiscal year budget

Holmes Beach city budget
Commissioners discuss budget proposals from each department head and City Treasurer Lori Hill. - Kristin Swain | Sun

HOLMES BEACH – After two public budget discussions, the city’s proposed 2018-19 budget will be going before commissioners for a public hearing and a vote after a few modifications are made.

City Treasurer Lori Hill proposed a $15,450,807 budget for the coming fiscal year, $2,027,153 over the adopted budget for the current year. The total budget includes $6,414,078 in assigned and unrestricted reserves.

Total operating expenses are budgeted at $2,326,244 with personnel services at $4,742,941 and capital outlay expenses at $1,818,544. The proposed budget also includes $149,000 for debt services, a cost that the city has not yet incurred. Those funds are estimated and set aside for potential future land acquisition purchases.

In the 2018-19 fiscal year, the proposed budget for the mayor and commission is expected to remain steady at $109,178. The general government budget is expected to increase from $1,152,497 in 2017-18 to $1,343,365 in 2018-19. The primary reasons for increases include increases in employee insurance payments, an increase of $50,000 in legal contingency and the addition of a sixth employee in the city clerk’s office to be shared with the city treasurer. The budget also includes $25,000 for donations to The Center of Anna Maria Island and other community organizations as approved by commissioners.

The Police Department’s proposed budget shows increases from $3,056,439 in 2017-18 to $3,324,163 in 2018-19. Primary increases in the budget are attributed to an increase in overtime payments, allowing for bulletproofing of the department’s lobby area where a dispatcher is posted around the clock and $101,000 for the installation of a five-camera license plate recognition system.

The proposed Code Enforcement Department budget is expected to increase by $81,718 to $211,896 for the coming fiscal year. The increase is due to the proposed addition of a third full-time code enforcement officer and a $26,045 increase in the city’s part of employee insurance payments. The budget also includes $31,000, a one-time fee for setting up Icompass host software for compliance issues.

Commissioner Judy Titsworth said she’s concerned that the vacation rental program is not paying for itself at a cost to rental owners of $150 per unit for a two-year period. Tokajer said increasing the cost at this point could reduce compliance by rental unit owners. Instead, he suggested adding and increasing violation costs to those who violate the vacation rental certificate program. He said an updated schedule of violations will be coming before commissioners for consideration at an upcoming meeting.

The Public Works Department proposed budget is expected to stay close to the approved $1,341,242 in 2017-18 at $1,342,757 in the 2018-19 fiscal year.

In the Building Department, Building Official Jim McGuinness presented an estimated $874,053 budget for the coming fiscal year versus the $773,154 approved in the current year. McGuinness said the increase is due primarily to a plan to add a sixth full-time employee and remodel the department’s lobby to make it more welcoming to the community. The new employee would be stationed in the lobby and able to issue most simple permits while the applicant waits, improving service to the community and speeding up the permitting process.

In addition to the already budgeted items, commissioners agreed to add $50,000 for dog park renovations and $15,000 to the budget for the services of City Planner Bill Brisson from carryover monies.

To make the budget work, Hill recommended a 2.25 millage rate. The millage rate is figured at the number of mills per $1,000 of taxable property value. The adjusted taxable value for all applicable Holmes Beach properties is $1,950,802,312, up from $1,826,165,695, the final gross taxable value in the 2017-18 fiscal year. Though the millage rate stays the same, because of the increase in property values, the city’s income from ad valorem tax is expected to increase from $4,108,873 in the 2017-18 fiscal year to $4,433,170 in the coming fiscal year. To keep the level of income at the same rate as the current fiscal year, commissioners would have to vote to set the millage rate at the rollback rate of 2.1062 mills. Though 2.25 mills is the recommendation, commissioners have not yet voted on the millage rate for the coming year.

Copies of the city’s draft budget are available to the public in the lobby at Holmes Beach City Hall, 5801 Marina Drive.

Commissioners will vote to set the maximum millage rate for the 2018-19 fiscal year at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, July 24 at City Hall.