Bradenton officials held the first of two public hearings to pass a $115 million budget on Wednesday, with the final hearing scheduled for Sept. 21.
The city council set the millage rate at 5.8976, the same as last year. However, the rollback rate is 5.6302, which means the city would have to lower the millage rate by 4.75 percent in order for it not be considered a tax increase, according to state statute. A mill is $1 for every $1,000 of appraised property value.
Beginning to actually decrease taxes is something Ward 4 Councilman Bemis Smith wants to see happen if property valuations continue to rise.
It’s still $11 million short of 2008, so you can still see what the recession has done.
Bradenton Mayor Wayne Poston
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“This is the highest budget we’ve had since 2009 and the third largest in city history,” said Smith. “In the future, I want to see us being responsive to keeping the reserves up, which we have, but if our revenues continue to go up, I’d like to see us level the taxes off.”
While it is the highest budget since 2009, Mayor Wayne Poston said, “It’s still $11 million short of 2008, so you can still see what the recession has done.”
About $15 million of the budget accounts for various grants that will pass through the city from third party sources, so the actual operational budget is closer to $100 million. The city benefited from an 8.6 percent city wide increase in property values, netting an additional $1.4 million in revenue totaling $17.2 million in ad valorem taxes for the 2016-17 fiscal year budget, which begins Oct. 1.
Those funds are there and committed to economic development cost center.
City administrator Carl Callahan
The $1.4 million in excess revenue is already accounted for with the city being required to invest $620,000 for new public safety radios. Public safety was a top priority for this year’s budget and includes a new $585,000 firetruck to replace an existing 28-year-old vehicle. City Administrator Carl Callahan said there would be “multiple vehicle replacements” this year to keep the public safety fleet up to standards.
Other budget highlights include $1 million for road paving projects, new police department hires, a 3 percent employee raise and $70,000 toward the creation of an economic development department.
“There are funds allocated for three positions, so what you decide to do is what you decide to do,” Callahan said. “If you want to do something you have every opportunity to do it. Those funds are there and committed to the economic development cost center.”