Mayor George Spoll urged the Town Commission to consider how the Longboat Key Fire Rescue Department is run by possibly eliminating the fire marshal position during a budget workshop May 5.
The suggestion set off a long discussion about how Town Manager Bruce St. Denis and his department heads can dig deeper and think differently to save money in all departments.
“I’m not trying to micromanage,” Spoll said. “Rather, I don’t want to hear why we can’t do things but would love to hear that we may be able to do things differently.”
Longboat Key Commissioner David Brenner urged St. Denis to present a preliminary budget June 1 that also includes a sidebar showing how the town can cut $800,000, the anticipated shortfall in the 2010-11 fiscal year.
“I would like to see how expenses have been reduced to match anticipated property tax reductions,” said Brenner, who urged the town manager to meet with department heads to cut expenses.
St. Denis, however, told the commission he wouldn’t be able to find $800,000.
“I don’t think there’s any more elephants to pull out of the hat,” St. Denis said. “I would assume more personnel reductions are necessary to do this.”
Brenner, however, said he’s not ready to go there yet.
“I think you can get there without going to extremes yet,” Brenner said. “It’s going to be painful, but I think you can do it.”
The commission agreed a higher anticipated budget shortfall than last year will mean taxes would need to be raised this fall.
Commissioner Lynn Larson also urged the town manager to review employee benefits and travel and education expenses.
And Commissioner Robert Siekmann made a suggestion that an extra $1.2 million needed to fund pension losses next year should come out of the commission contingency.
Said Siekmann: “My point of view is we should use that contingency money because we should have funded those plans with that money we have accrued in the past.”
Siekmann said two additional police officers and a shortfall in ad valorem revenues should come, in part, from raising the town’s millage rate.
For more information, pick up a copy of the Thursday, May 13, edition of The Longboat Observer.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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