Here’s a request the Town Commission should pose to Town Manager Bruce St. Denis and Finance Director Tom Kelley:
Provide an analysis showing the five- to eight-year effects, starting in 2011, on the town’s tax rates if the town were to:
Scenario 1) Issue bonds for a $40 million beach renourishment and make no changes to its current employee pension plans.
Include in that analysis details showing what the amount of the town’s unfunded liability is likely to be. Currently, it is about $26 million.
Scenario 2) Issue bonds for a $40 million beach renourishment and issue 20-year bonds to pay off the town’s $26 million unfunded pension liabilities.
In this scenario, the town would fund what taxpayers eventually must pay and convert the town’s present defined contribution pension plans to the less costly defined benefit plans.
These two issues — the $40 million renourishment and how to stop the town’s future pension liability from growing — will be colliding at the height of Season and become two of the top issues in the next Town
The commissioners would be wise to have these answers sooner rather than later.
+ More on those pensions Just a reminder to Longboaters …
The subject of pension funds and actuaries can make anyone’s eyes glaze over. But this is serious stuff for all Longboat Key taxpayers.
For starters, the town’s unfunded pension liability has grown from $709,302 in October 2001 to $26,390,888 in October 2009 — 3,620%. And it’s still growing.
This is a future obligation that Longboat Key property owners will have to pay. If you’re an octogenarian, you may not be too worried about how that liability will affect your property taxes. But if you’re in your 40s, 50s and 60s, you probably want to pay attention.
For instance, say a Big One hits Longboat Key in the not-too-distant future. And say it wipes out a half-dozen or so condominiums at mid-Key. Now say those condos don’t get rebuilt.
All of a sudden the pool of taxpayers to cover the future assessments for those unfunded pension liabilities shrinks.
Result? Your taxes go up.
They’re going to go up anyway. But the sooner the town’s pension problems are addressed, the more likely the financial pain can be minimized.
+ Wayfinders point the way
It’s pretty embarrassing to tell out-of-town visitors their federal tax dollars helped pay for Longboat Key’s new blue “wayfinding” signs at the entrances to Longboat Key and at a few other strategic spots on Gulf of Mexico Drive. It would be less so if the wayfinding signs at the entrance to the Key were actually useful.
To wit: When you drive onto the south end of the Key, the wayfinding sign tells motorists what’s ahead — town offices, tennis courts, shops, churches, etc. And these destinations are listed with triangles serving as directional arrows pointing north (as if they could be any other direction). Wouldn’t it be more useful to list the distance in miles?
+ Vince Flynn territory
Popular spy-thriller novelist Vince Flynn stopped in Sarasota last Sunday to help promote his latest best-seller, “American Assassin.”
Sponsored by St. Armands Circle’s Circle Books and its owners, Debby Stowell and Eric Lamboley, Flynn packed the auditorium at Selby Public Library in downtown Sarasota. The room was so crowded, in fact, the head librarian said that in the eight years she has held events in the auditorium, never has there been as many people as turned out for Flynn.
That there were so many Flynn fans was an obvious indicator of this region’s conservative and patriotic roots. Flynn is known for his conservative point of view in his novels — with American spies the good guys and politicians and terrorists the bad guys. He has such a big fan base here that he told the audience Circle Books sold more of his “Term Limits” novel than any other independent bookstore in the country.