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Treasure Island budget aims to preserve key services while addressing infrastructure needs

TREASURE ISLAND — City Manager Reid Silverboard's proposed $18 million city budget is an attempt to adapt city spending to the "realities of the economy."

"Every department has pared muscle and bone from their operations in order to shed unnecessary programs and focus on and carry out their core mission," Silverboard said in his message to commissioners.

Last week, the City Commission poured over that budget, in an effort to ensure that residents receive key services while needed repairs are made to the city's aging infrastructure.

"National, state and local economic conditions have had a profound impact on our budget," Silverboard said.

The proposed 2011-2012 budget calls for property tax rates to remain the same — $268.68 per $100,000 of value after all exemptions.

The good news for many residents is that, because property values declined for the fourth year in a row, tax bills probably will be lower.

The bad news for the city is a loss of more than $125,000 in property tax revenues. When combined with changes in other revenues, the city will receive nearly $50,000 less in the coming year.

In order to pay its bills and fund needed infrastructure and other special projects, Silverboard proposes taking $572,510 from the city's $2.1 million reserves.

Even so, spending in all city funds is expected to drop by about 16 percent next year.

Most of the city's infrastructure is 40 and 60 years old and requires higher levels of maintenance each year, according to Silverboard.

Part of spending for the upcoming year will be devoted to continued maintenance, as well as building replacement funds.

"The Palms and Capri bridges are deteriorating and at the end of their useful life," Silverboard said, estimating it will cost up to $5 million to replace them.

He expects the city will have to spend more than $5 million on its aging sewer system in the near future.

The city has miles of sewer mains that need replacing, as well as roads that must be resurfaced and storm drainage needing improvement or replacement.

"Keeping up with our infrastructure needs is, and will continue to be, very challenging," Silverboard said.

The budget calls for a 25 percent increase in stormwater fees to raise more than $107,000 to offset capital project costs.

The increase would mean that single-family homes would pay $1.19 more a month, with multifamily residences and commercial properties paying proportionately more.

Silverboard is also proposing a 5 percent increase in recycling fees, and 5 percent increases in base and volume charges for water use.

No raises are planned for nonunion and administrative employees in Silverboard's budget. Salaries for police officers and firefighters will be determined in negotiations with their respective unions.

Projected spending cuts are not expected to affect city-sponsored special events, but no money is available for donations to events sponsored by outside groups.

Capital projects paid out of Penny for Pinellas funds will total more than $81,000 and include, in addition to infrastructure projects, new playground equipment at the Beach Pavilion, tables and chairs for the Community Center, replacing the public works building roof, and buying two new police cars.

The commission will discuss the final proposed tax rate during its Aug. 2 meeting and consider the final budget and property tax rate at its Sept. 6 and Sept. 21 meetings.

Treasure Island budget aims to preserve key services while addressing infrastructure needs 07/23/11 [Last modified: Saturday, July 23, 2011 4:31am]
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