The Palmetto City Commission on Friday approved and passed onto a final hearing a $27 million budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year budget, which begins Oct. 1.
The proposed new budget is 2.5 percent higher than last year and is 5.52 percent greater than the rollback rate.
Though the city did not raise the millage rate, which stands at 5.9671, an increase in property values means the city would have had to lower the millage rate by 5.52 percent in order for it not to be a tax increase, according to state statute. A mill is $1 for every $1,000 of appraised property value.
Hurricane Irma canceled the commission’s Monday meeting so a special meeting was held Friday in order to meet the state’s requirements to hold two public hearings. The final hearing will be held Sept. 26 at 5:30 p.m. at Palmetto City Hall, 516 Eighth Ave. W.
The first hearing was to set a tentative millage rate. With no public comment, city officials swiftly approved setting the tentative rate, which cannot be raised at the final hearing, but it can still be lowered.
Property taxes fund the city’s general fund, which will be more than $11.3 million in the coming fiscal year. The general fund covers most operating expenses, including salaries, which is about 25 percent of the general fund for 140 positions. The police department alone is typically the biggest expense for a city, and that is the case for Palmetto with a $4.5 million expenditure.
Other capital expenses include several new vehicles and pieces of equipment with the police department receiving three new patrol cars with in-car video cameras for close to $100,000. The road and bridge department will receive a new street sweeper for $300,000 and another $60,000 for a mini-excavator, though that department and others are funded through various water and stormwater fees.
The total budget for road and bridge is a little more than $2 million, $2.1 million for solid waste and $6.5 million for water and sewer.
City Clerk Jim Freeman said general fund revenues can be used to cover capital expenditures, personnel costs, public safety and utility infrastructure within the city.