Process begins soon for next budget, based on positive news from the spending plan that is now about six months from completion.
In terms of Longboat Key's most recently enacted budget and its preparations in the next weeks and months for the 2023 model, the town is, oh, halfway there.
With all respect to 1980s New Jersey rocker Jon Bon Jovi, though, commissioners and department heads are not living on a prayer, as they learned this week during a midway-point update, during which positive financial results of an audit completed in March were discussed.
Faced with some uncertainty ahead with inflation, domestic effects of war in central Europe and worries of some experts of a coming recession perhaps in late 2023 or early 2024, town leaders begin the process May 16 with a workshop on long-range capital-improvement projects — typically planned five years in advance — and on June 20 with a general fund workshop, at which time initial projections on housing valuations will be ready.
By June 1, the town will receive a preliminary look at property valuations in town, critical to estimating revenue and early consideration of the next budget's millage rate. By July 1, final valuations are due, and the town plans a rare Friday morning meeting to set the not-to-exceed millage rate for property taxes.
In summary, auditors found the town generated more revenue than budgeted in the 2021 spending plan and spent less than planned, ending up adding to budget reserves by about $1.6 million instead of digging into them by a budgeted $1 million. Some of that extra cash came from CARES act funding, proceeds from auctioned surplus property, fees charged as part of the St. Regis construction project, an increase in business tax receipts fueled by COVID-19 recovery and even fewer than expected early property tax payments, nullifying a 4% discount.
"The good news is, revenues came in higher, expenditures came in lower," Town Manager Tom Harmer said.
Here are some highlights and fun facts from the 2021 budget to be considered as the 2022 budget hits the final lap and some mid-fiscal year milestones.
Five fascinating facts about the 2021 budget
A fine mess: Following the town’s increase in parking fines and the establishment of resident-only parking in most areas of Longbeach Village, the town gathered more than three times the budgeted amount for fines, taking in $168,691 which was nearly $116,000 more than budgeted.
Buying and selling: Staff review fees and lien searches totaled more than $475,000, which ended up nearly $35,000 over budget, owing to increased real estate activity.
Pay early and save: The town gathered more than $93,000 in property taxes than the budgeted figure of $12,398,165. Why? The budget assumes a larger portion of property owners will take advantage of a 4% discount for early payers. Not as many taxpayers as expected did so.
Taking a hit: Income on investments came in $67,000 under expectations, owing to a weaker than expected financial market. The town budgeted for $91,500.
A brand-new car! (sort of): In determining how many days of reserves the town has in assigned and unassigned balances (it was 259 at the end of the last budget), the town uses the figure of $43,353. To compare, Kelley Blue Book in 2021 estimated the average new car on sale in the United States cost $42,358.
In the Public Eye
6 Regular Town Commission meetings
5 Regular Town Commission workshops
6 Special Town Commission meetings
2 Special Town Commission workshops
0 Out-of-the-Sunshine attorney/client sessions
Additionally, commissioners took part in joint meetings with the Sarasota City Commission, the Manatee County Commission and the Sarasota Convocation of Governments meeting.
Down the drain
357.01 Million gallons of water used by Longboat Key utilities customers (338.7 million over the same period in 2021)
318.11 Million gallons of wastewater sent for treatment by Longboat Key utilities customers (326.5 million over the same period in 2021)
Town staff has fielded:
81,132 Phone calls (77,429 over same period in 2021)
324,048 Emails (249,595 over the same period in 2022)
In the Sunshine
305 Public record requests processed (302 over the same period in 2021)
29 Town ordinances, orders or resolutions completed (31 over the same period in 2021)
9,983 Town Commission emails distribute to the public (9,267 over the same period in 2021)
102 Purchase orders processed (93 over the same period in 2021)
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