City budget adopted on final reading
With little fanfare, Venice City Council concluded its budget deliberations Tuesday evening, adopting the rollback millage rate.
It’s the second year in a row council adopted a rollback rate, which raises local property taxes for many just enough to bring in the same amount of tax revenue as the preceding year.
Council Member Jim Bennett said the average tax increase will be $3 per $100,000 in taxable value, as the millage rate went up three-one-hundredths from 2.935 mills to 2.965.
City Finance Director Jeff Snyder said the millage rate is impacted by other things, including Save Our Homes. Some homeowners could actually see a decrease, while others could see an increase.
He showed council members a $400,000 home who’s city tax will go up nearly $180.
Council tackled major budget issues and ended the year with a maintenance budget, albeit one that improves the fund balance of a number of departments.
While most council members indicated they were happy with the budget, they also acknowledged there’s more work to be done to streamline expenses and boost revenue, leaving room for improvement.
Implicit in the budget is a 2 percent increase in salary for city employees.
The city lost ground in taxable value, which ad valorem taxes are based on, for the fifth straight year.
The city’s taxable value is expected to drop less than 1 percent (0.02) from $2.707 billion in 2012 to $2.701 billion in 2013. Taxable value was at its highest in 2008 when the city had $4.368 billion.
By contrast, Sarasota County’s taxable values are expected to go down this year, also by less than 1 percent (0.9) from $39.4 billion to an estimated $39.1 billion in 2013. It peaked in 2008 at $62.6 billion.
The city’s 2013 rollback millage rate will be 2.9653, plus debt service millage of 0.262, for a total city millage rate of 3.2273.
The city is working with four fewer employees than last year, at 272.5 in full-time equivalency.
The city’s general fund anticipated tax revenue is $20.5 million. Of that amount, 37 percent comes from ad valorem taxes, while 45 percent comes from non-tax revenue like the 1-cent sales surtax and a multitude of city fees and state fees that are shared.
Eighty percent of the city’s general fund is expended on employee salaries and benefits. Of that, $7.8 million goes toward police service while $5.2 million goes toward fire service. Another 15.46 percent of general fund monies goes toward contracts, 3.44 percent to commodities and 1.79 percent for capital outlay.