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Sarasota Thursday, Jul. 16, 2009 12 years ago

Fees increased, positions eliminated for budget

by: Robin Roy City Editor

Despite a $9 million shortfall in revenue, the city unveiled plans for a balanced budget for 2010 with no layoffs. But to achieve that, a series of cuts will be required, including one that City Manager Bob Bartolotta warned city commissioners was likely to generate a negative response.

Bartolotta is suggesting the city charge a fee for special-event permits, which have previously been free.

“It will impact these events in a big way,” Bartolotta said. “This will be controversial.”

Last year, the city issued 358 special-event permits. Bartolotta said it took 668 days of staff time to process those event permits, which equates to more than $220,000 in man hours.

Currently, the city has only charged event organizers for police protection and trash pickup, but Bartolotta is recommending the City Commission adopt a set of fees that would recover half of the cost it absorbs to process event permits.

The county began charging special-event fees about three years ago, and the city manager said the result is more groups are bringing their events to the city because it’s free, which costs the city more in man hours.

City commissioners will get the final say on whether to impose the fee and how much it will be when they hold budget hearings July 21 and July 22.

They’ll also decide on a number of other measures designed to keep the $162 million budget balanced (see PDF).

Bartolotta is proposing an across-the-board wage freeze that will save $1.8 million. A total of 30 vacant and retiring positions within 13 different departments would be eliminated to save $700,000. None of those positions is in the police department.

Also being cut is the program that provides paid vacation days for employees who don’t call in sick or take part in an exercise program. That move is expected to save $300,000.

The city is also planning to implement in September 2010 a measure commissioners, staff and residents have been suggesting for a couple of years — one-day-a-week trash pickup. The savings would be $300,000, and it would result in no rate increase for property owners.


To see a chart illustrating the city's budget shortfall please click on the following link:

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