Bradenton sets tentative millage rate and budget

jtate@bradenton.comSeptember 12, 2013 

BRADENTON -- The Bradenton City Council is moving forward with its proposed budget and 8.5 percent millage rate increase.

During a Wednesday evening budget hearing, the city council voted 5-0 to approve the tentative $36.9 million 2014 budget and new 5.8976 millage rate.

City council has a second hearing set at 5:01 p.m. Sept. 18 in the City Hall council chambers to pass the budget.

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.

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

City Clerk Carl Callahan said the millage rate increase covers pension plans for public safety employees and some infrastructure repairs.

"We generally see these type of increases we have and we haven't seen a lot of negative pushback to do the things you got to do," said Callahan.

Although overall spending is down $6 million, Callahan said the city has to pay certain items, which include police pensions and street repaving. "The bulk of money will go into pension plans," said Callahan.

The latest version shows $2 million budgeted for police pensions, $2.334 million for fire department pensions and roughly $1 million for all other employees pension plans.

Callahan said city officials projected a 4 percent increase in revenue from property taxes, but final numbers showed city property tax revenues only increased 1 percent.

Some police officers came to voice their problems with the proposed budget and wanted the city council to understand why they deserved raises.

Sean O'Leary, Bradenton police officer, spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting.

"We hope that you, as our governing fathers, can see that we are worth the time and efforts," said O'Leary. "Good people are here now but they will not be here forever."

Mayor Wayne Poston said it's not unusual to hear public safety employees say they need more money.

"We are trying to take care of our officers, and we are not saying that they are not doing a great job," Poston said. "We want to give them money. We just don't really have it, but we can get to a certain point."

He said the city is in salary negotiations with the police department.

"I feel comfortable with what we turned out with the budget and glad there are not a lot of citizens here saying that we are not doing our job," Poston said.

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