Holmes Beach budget questions answered

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HOLMES BEACH – City leaders began budget talks for the 2019-20 fiscal year beginning in July. With two budget hearings now set for September, The Sun is taking your questions to city leaders to get answers to items that concern community members.

Where did the City Planner’s salary go?

Some changes have come to city hall in the current fiscal year regarding City Planner Bill Brisson. Brisson went from a contract employee with Holmes Beach to a part-time employee and is making the move to a full-time position for the 2019-20 fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. In previous years, the monies paid to the planner were logged under the building department’s budget in the overall city budget. For the coming year, the planner’s salary and benefits have been moved out of the building department and are in the general government budget. The general government budget includes the city clerk’s office, the city treasurer, the development director position and human resources as well as the planner. The total amount for salaries for eight full-time employees is budgeted at $586,140, up from $415,395 in the current fiscal year. Including benefits, the total amount for employees increases to $828,112, up from $602,951 in the current fiscal year ending Sept. 30.

Should we replace bulletproof vests every three years?

The short answer to this one is yes, the bulletproof vests supplied to Holmes Beach police officers do need to be replaced regularly. The reason why is because the vests degrade over time due to heat, the environment and just regular wear and tear, according to Police Chief Bill Tokajer. Just like a child’s car seat, the vests also have an expiration date. Tokajer said he tries to stagger the replacements so that only a few are replaced per year but that replacing the vests is mandatory in order to make sure every officer has adequate protection when on patrol. HBPD officers typically wear their bulletproof vests when outside of the police station as a part of their uniform. In the budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year, Tokajer lists that four bulletproof vests are scheduled to be replaced at a cost of $1,000 each.

Why does Code Compliance have a budget outside of the HBPD?

Code Compliance, previously known as Code Enforcement, has its own budget because the department is its own entity within the departmental framework at Holmes Beach City Hall. With the expansion of the department to three officers and a budget to add a fourth officer, along with a move from the HBPD side of city hall to the public works barn, the department incurs its own expenses that need to be recorded outside of the police department. Currently, Code Compliance Officer James Thomas serves as the department’s leader. This is not the first year that the department has had its own budget. The proposed budget for the department for the upcoming fiscal year is $481,644, including $309,818 for salaries and benefits for four full-time employees, compared to a total of $290,396 with $212,496 budgeted for employee salaries and benefits in the current fiscal year.

Why is there no increase in the beach patrol income from Manatee County?

Manatee County gives the city $10,000 annually to help cover the costs associated with HBPD officers patrolling the county-owned beaches. Tokajer said he approaches county leaders every year to increase the amount paid to the city but so far has been unable to get the amount increased. During budget hearings, he said that he’s keeping statistics on the amount of people coming to the beaches in Holmes Beach and how much the city actually spends on beach patrol to help bolster his position when the opportunity arises to attempt to renegotiate with the county.

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