Lakewood Ranch supervisors approve preliminary 2015 budget

kmoschella@bradenton.comMay 16, 2014 

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- The Lakewood Ranch Inter-District Authority has approved a proposed operating budget for the 2015 fiscal year with an appropriations increase of 5.4 percent from last year.

A public hearing on the budget has been scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday, July 15, at Lakewood Ranch Town Hall.

The proposed budget, scheduled to take effect in October, calls for an annualized performance-based salary increase of 1 percent for Town Hall staff. It also includes a 2 percent increase for outside technical services to replace the "canopy," a network device above the Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club clubhouse that controls cable connectivity. Officials say the repairs will improve gatehouse/gate access, connectivity at Town Hall and district parks, irrigation controllers and water pressure monitoring.

IDA Chief Financial Officer Steven Zielinski said the proposed budget includes slight increases for new transponders with a bar code and continued funding for Town Hall asset repairs and replacements, including interior painting and carpet re

placement.

IDA Chairman Thomas Green said Lakewood Ranch is nearing 20 years old and items will likely need to be improved every year now. Vice Chairman David Emison said all proposed improvements are necessary.

The largest proposed budget-item increase -- 3.1 percent -- is a result of the recent interlocal agreement among community development districts 2, 5 and 6 to share operation and maintenance costs of the Balmoral Woods Boulevard and Legacy Boulevard gates.

The CDDs will share costs based on the number of homes in each district. After the agreement takes effect Oct. 1, CDD 6 will pay about 20 percent of the costs related to the gatehouses, while districts 2 and 5 will pay around 35 percent and 44 percent, respectively.

When questioned about the budget increase, IDA Executive Director Eva Rey pointed to the timing of the gate agreement, and said the proposed budget hadn't included Balmoral Gate expenses.

"The agreement wasn't done prior to the budget workshops so District 6 was off and on their own," Rey said.

Overall, Zielinski noted slight decreases in the proposed budget for operation and maintenance upgrades and Town Hall administration expenses. He also said the total reserve balance is estimated at $401,000 after using $100,000 to offset some 2015 expense increases.

Kathryn Moschella, Lakewood Ranch reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7010.

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