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Longboat Key Friday, Sep. 3, 2021 8 months ago

Longboat Key Town Commission to review upcoming budget

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Commissioners are set to review the budget on Sept. 13 and again on Sept. 27.
by: Mark Bergin Staff Writer

Longboat Key Town Commissioners plan two reviews of the Fiscal Year 2022 budget, beginning next week, with a final vote set for the end of September. 

Commissioners are scheduled to hold a public hearing at 5:01 p.m. Sept. 13. A second reading and adoption vote are set for 5:01 p.m. on Sept. 27. Regular commission meetings take place at 1 p.m. each of those days, though budget considerations are not permitted until after 5 p.m.

The recommended budget maintains a flat millage rate of 2.1144. Using that rate, a revenue increase of about $741,000 is anticipated, based on a property value increase of 5.99%. The town is projected to collect about $13,139,051 in the upcoming fiscal year from property taxes, about three quarters of town revenue.

Longboat Key is projected to spend $17,694,382 in the upcoming fiscal year.

“Last fiscal year (FY21) the town faced one of the more challenging budgets in recent history due to uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic, with anticipated revenue losses in sales taxes, tourist development taxes and gas taxes,” Town Manager Tom Harmer wrote in his Aug. 1 recommended budget. “Furthermore, the property tax base in the Sarasota County portion of the Key, was negatively affected by declining condominium values.

“In contrast, the FY22 taxable base saw a moderate increase of 6%, driven by a booming real estate market attributable to lower mortgage rates and out of state buyers flocking to Florida.”

Longboat Key’s year-to-year property values rebounded after falling last year for the first time since 2013. The town’s $6.47 billion in property values are less than 2% of the peak in  2008.

Harmer said the pandemic has prompted many people to move to Florida. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows Longboat Key’s population growth from 6,888 full-time residents in 2010 to 7,505 in 2020. However, some of the increase is attributed to people making their Longboat Key properties their full-time residences.

The town also has a fund balance reserve of about $10.1 million, which is the equivalent of 213 days.

Among the recommended expenditures:

  • Completing the outdoor Town Center phase two improvements, including a stage, walkways and lighting. The Town Commission is set to discuss the Town Center site at its Sept. 13 regular meeting.
  • Gulf of Mexico Drive crosswalk improvements
  • Early stages of a redundant sewer line  under Sarasota Bay. The project would build a parallel line that would one day replace the existing line. The town is planning to pursue the project in fiscal year 2024 at a cost of about $21.8 million.
  • The beginning phase of a multi-year $7.2 million construction project to replace cement pipes in Country Club Shores that contain asbestos.

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Mark Bergin is the Longboat Key Town Hall reporter for the Observer. He has previously worked as a senior digital producer at WTSP, the CBS affiliate in St. Petersburg. Mark is a graduate of the University of Missouri and grew up in the Chicagoland area.

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