Town Manager Bruce St. Denis has heeded the Longboat Key Town Commission’s warning by presenting a 2011-12 recommended budget that keeps the town’s millage rate at its current rate of 1.8872 mills.
It’s the first time in four years St. Denis hasn’t recommended a millage increase to balance the budget.
Instead, this year’s budget, which begins Oct. 1, includes a $52,400 surplus that allows commissioners to consider adding back in contributions to organizations such as the Sarasota County Economic Development Corporation and Solutions to Avoid Red Tide (START).
The budget reduces fiscal year 2011-12 general-fund operating expenditures by $381,000, or 2.68%, compared to fiscal year 2010-11.
In his budget memo dated Aug. 1, St. Denis explained the budget was based on a 4.23% reduction in property values and a $375,000 reduction in ad valorem tax revenue, because the town is keeping the millage rate the same as last year.
If the commission approves the budget next month, property owners with a homestead exemption who have a lower 2011 assessed value than the previous year will see a 1.5% increase in their taxes. For a homeowner with a $500,000 home, that tax increase would be $14.15.
For those homesteaded properties for which the 2011 assessed value is lower than the 2010 assessed value, taxes will decrease, because the town did not impose a higher millage rate. For a homeowner with a $500,000 home, the tax decrease would be approximately $38.
These tax-rate amount scenarios are different than what property owners are receiving in the mail from the property appraisers’ offices, but only because the millage rate on those notices is calculated at the higher maximum millage rate the commission doesn’t intend to approve.
The recommended budget assumes the commission will approve a 5% increase in the town’s business tax receipt program the following year, which will increase town revenues by approximately $8,000.
The commission identified $265,000 in expenditure reductions at its July 13 budget workshop, and St. Denis and his staff reduced expenditures by an additional $20,000.
The budget will be discussed on first reading and public hearing at the commission’s 7 p.m. regular meeting Monday, Sept. 12. A budget workshop could be scheduled for that morning to discuss the budget.
The budget will be adopted on second reading at a special meeting at 5:01 p.m. Monday, Sept. 26.
• The town may also save an additional $28,000 in March election costs because it can piggyback off county elections that will be held about the same time.
• Recent contract negotiation sessions with the Police and Fire Rescue unions have allowed the town to eliminate a 401(k) match for pension plan members who have a cost-of-living allowance, reducing the general fund by $63,000.
• The budget also discontinues the funding of long-term disability insurance for all employees for a $39,000 savings.