At a City Commission workshop Monday afternoon, city officials presented a $191 million proposed budget for fiscal year 2013-14 — an 8.4% increase over last year — that includes a $2.5 million deficit still waiting to be addressed.
City Manager Tom Barwin said the city of Sarasota’s preliminary budget reflected a cautious optimism that some cuts associated with the economic downturn of the past few years can be scaled back, as the budget also includes a 5.6% increase in revenues.
“The story of this budget is the story of a resilient community rebounding from the dramatic impacts of the Great Recession,” Barwin said. Barwin also said it kept the city living within its means.
A net of 11 jobs will be reduced from FY12-13; the police department alone will see a net reduction of 11 full-time jobs and carry 17 fewer sworn officer positions.
Still, police spending is comfortably the largest budgeted area from the general fund, making up 50.3% of the roughly $58.6 million in general fund expenditures. This is due in large part to rising pension costs:
Currently, about 80 cents must be matched in pensions for every dollar of police salary, Barwin said.
Fire pension, retiree medical and other post-employment benefit costs represent another 17% of general fund spending. According to city finance director John Lege, more than one-fifth of the $14.9 million overall budget increase came from increases in general, fire and police pensions.
Other significant areas of increased spending include $3.4 million for the purchase of vehicles and radios; $3 million for repair of shoreline damage due to Tropical Storm Debby; $2.6 million for the construction of a new bus transfer station; and $1.7 million in water and sewer facility upgrades.
The complete budget can be found on the city’s website. The City Commission will hold budget workshops from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m July 16 and July 17, and the preliminary millage rate will be set July 17.
To see a breakdown of major general fund expenditures, click here.
Contact David Conway at [email protected]