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Councilman shares concerns on 2015-16 Town budget

August 12, 2015
By Alan Mandel , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

I share constituents' concerns regarding an increase in the Town's millage rate.

The Town's budget should not be based on an increase in millage rate. Any increase to the existing budget should come from the projected 5.7 percent property values increase and expenditure offsets.

While some may conclude a 41 percent millage rate is only $90-100 for properties valued at $300,000, we cannot look at this in isolation. We must consider the expected increased fees required by the Town's water utility and potential storm water utility. These two projects may require $400-600/year from taxpayers over the next 20 years. Therefore, the current proposed increase in millage and fees would be a $500-700 increase to the average taxpayer. This is too much for residents on fixed incomes. Taxpayers have a single pocket from which they pay taxes and fees

Potable water improvements will provide reliable and safe drinking water. Storm water management will mitigate flooding and provide passable streets for residents.

The Council should look at an expense budget which increases by no more than 5.7 percent, the funds available from increased property values and any other cost reduction measures. The Town's net cash position remained stable for five years prior to last year. The net cash position declined by $3.6 million for the year ended 9/30/14. Expenses need to be managed.

Any increased revenue from property values should be allocated to the capital plan for replacement of equipment and replacement of depleted reserves. Since Town staff did not receive increases for a number of years, some dollars should be allocated to compensation.

It is possible to meet the Town's needs based on an expected $800,000 from increased property valuations, and no increase in millage rate.

Thank you to all the constituents who have written and called regarding the budget.

--Alan Mandel is a council member of the Town of Fort Myers Beach

 
 

 

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