- September 14, 2020
As town leaders work their way through the formulation of a budget for fiscal year 2023, they typically head down two parallel paths: One is the operating budget, from which salaries, benefits and normal costs of performing the town's business are paid. Then there's the Capital Improvement Program, made up of big-ticket purchases or town projects that can last years. That side of the budget looks five years into the future, accounting for expected spending, equipment replacements, construction or maintenance costs.
Capital typically cost more than $5,000 and are intended to last a year or more.
Here are some of the more noteworthy projects in the town's capital budget and how they're expected to be financed. All told, the town expects to spend about $44.1 million in 2023 on capital projects, though $37 million of that was carried forward from the previous year.
Two major projects are part of the $40.4 million, five-year capital plan for water and sewer.
Through fiscal year 2025, the town expects to spend about $7.2 million on replacing asbestos-laced cement pipes that run throughout the Country Club Shores neighborhood. The pipe materials were common at the time the community was built, but over the years have fallen out of favor. The design/build project aims to replace the water lines. Federal money is hoped to fund some of the project, along with the second year of increased rates for water and sewer customers on the island and reserves.
Through fiscal year 2025, the town expects to spend about $24.8 million on its redundant sewer main project under Sarasota Bay to mainland Manatee County. The existing pipe broke in 2020 on the mainland side, prompting the town to move ahead with plans to build a parallel line. About $1.82 million of American Rescue Plan Act money granted to the town is earmarked for the project, as is another $1.25 million grant. Millions more are in the state budget awaiting Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signature, though he does have veto power over line items in the spending plan.
As part of a plan to gradually increase water rated through 2029, the average town customer will see bills rise from about $77 in 2021 to $105 in 2029.
The town proposes to purchase three electric pickup trucks in the next budget under a pilot program to see how well they perform and assess potential savings on fuel and maintenance: two for the building department and one for the town’s fire marshal.
The $180,000 estimated costs for the trucks would be paid from different, non property-tax based, sources. Additionally, $30,000 would be spent for a charging station in the Town Hall complex for the trucks and another $30,000 for a station at the town’s public safety complex.
The fire department’s electric vehicle would be paid for from the Sarasota County Surtax III funds, revenue from which will come to an end on Dec. 31, 2024, to be replaced in the following year with a new round of surtax revenue, should voters countywide approve the measure.
The building department vehicles would be paid for from the town’s Building Fund, which is largely financed by costs fees by builders and developers in town.
The building department additionally is seeking $10,000 to develop a drone program for tall building and roof inspections.
Bayfront Park’s recreation center is expected to get a new roof in the next budget cycle, an accelerated budget line item based on the needs of the building.
The budget calls for $35,000 to that end, from the Sarasota County Surtax III fund.
The money was originally slated to be spent in 2024, but the need is too great.
"Best to do it now before things get worse," Public Works Director Isaac Brownman said., adding the floor of the building will likely now get redone in the 2024 budget.
The roof of Fire Station 91, which was not addressed in its recent remodeling, is scheduled for 2024 at a cost of $175,000, which would come from the Manatee County Surtax Fund.
As one of its top priorities, the town is heading toward a funding strategy for dredging canals. Though $6 million is budgeted to be spent on construction by the end of the 2027 fiscal year, that end of the spending doesn't begin until 2024 at the earliest. Town leaders have yet to settle on a formula on how to assess property owners. In the meantime, about $185,000 is earmarked for seagrass mitigation management and monitoring, which was carried over from previous budgets.
Funding is included for bathrooms at Joan Durante Park, to the tune of $25,000 in 2023 and an additional $75,000 is included in fiscal year 2027 for new playground equipment in the popular park.