Bradenton budget vote leads Wednesday agenda

jtate@bradenton.comSeptember 11, 2013 

BRADENTON -- Bradenton residents can hear discussions at 5 p.m. Wednesday on the proposed $36.9 million budget for 2014, which includes an 8.5 percent property tax increase.

The first reading and public hearing of the budget will take place in City Hall council chambers.

The latest version of the budget sets the tentative millage rate at 5.8976 mills.

A millage rate is a tax applied to assessed property value. Millage rates are expressed in tenths of a penny. For example, 2 mills equals 2/10ths of a penny.

City Clerk Carl Callahan said the increase will ensure the city can continue to provide the same level of public safety services, which include fire and police protection as well as funding their pension plans.

"The bulk of the money is for pension plans and public safety," said Callahan.

The proposed general fund budget is $36.9 million, up $1.6 million and 4.5 percent from $35.3 million last year.

If the millage rate boost is approved, homeowners with a property value of $100,000 would pay $46 more per year.

The increase -- from 5.4356 mills to 5.8976 mills -- will also help fund street paving and give city employees their first raise since 2007.

Callahan said the increased budget will allow the city to

implement salary increases based off of its wage and salary classification study. Although, the city could not afford across-the-board raises, the lowest-paid employees will receive a 1 percent to 7 percent wage increase.

"The larger raises are for lesser-paid folks," said Callahan citing an example. "A meter reader will go from $10.69 to $11.49 an hour with a 7 percent increase."

Councilman Harold Byrd said some employees made less in comparison with other cities.

"We want things to be fair," said Byrd. "There's enough room in the budget for them to see increases."

Byrd said certain expenses were put off in past years due to budget shortfalls. He said the slight increase will allow the city to make needed infrastructure repairs, including street repaving. The city has proposed $400,000 to pave streets, which is $300,000 more than last year's budget.

"I know it's not nearly enough but, now's the time to start making up for those types of things that were not budgeted during those years," said Byrd. "They have to be fixed."

City Council will have another budget hearing at 5:01 p.m. Sept. 18.

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