Bradenton OKs 8.5 percent millage increase and $36.9M budget

jtate@bradenton.comSeptember 19, 2013 

BRADENTON -- The Bradenton City Council gave final approval to an 8.5 percent millage rate increase and a $36.9 million budget Wednesday evening during a special meeting.

The city council voted 4-0 to set the final 2014 budget and new 5.8976 millage rate. Councilman Bemis Smith was not in attendance.

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.

With the newly approved millage rate, 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 pay $500,000 in public safety pensions. We have no choice in it, but it's something we must 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 latest version of the budget shows $2 million going to 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.

Just as in last week's budget hearing, 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 and he spoke last week as well.

"Nothing has gotten cheaper. Things continue to go up, but our salaries have not gone up," said O'Leary.

Tami Spyker, who also spoke last week, is a Neighborhood Watch liaison to the Bradenton Police Department. She pleaded with the city council to do whatever it took to make sure police had a fair wage in comparison to cities of their size.

"Police have not had a raise in four years," said Spyker. "They need to know the city cares about them."

The Bradenton City Council will meet next at 6 p.m. Sept. 25.

Janey Tate, city of Bradenton and Palmetto reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041. You can follow her on Twitter at Janey_Tate.

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