Sunday, January 21, 2018
News Roundup

Tax bills, fees to rise in Madeira Beach

MADEIRA BEACH — Property owners may not see an ad valorem tax rate increase in the coming year but many will see higher property tax bills because of a 4.64 percent increase in property values, the first hike since 2008.

Residents and business owners also may be paying more on their water bills if the commission approves recommended increases in the city's stormwater fees.

The current rate of $5 a month is proposed to double to $10 a month.

Visitors to Madeira Beach may also be paying more to park their cars.

It now costs $1.00 an hour to park in city metered lots. That rate is slated to rise to $1.50 an hour.

Meanwhile, the city is poised to spend nearly $12-million for a variety of capital improvement projects ranging from a new city hall and fire station to building transient docks at the city marina.

These are just some of the highlights of Madeira Beach City Manager Shane Crawford's proposed 2013-14 city budget.

Crawford warned the commission, however, that it's "very possible" property taxes may have to go up in the 2014-15 budget year.

"You have a host of projects that you need to do and there is a price to pay for that," he said. "I am going on record right now to say that next year you may need to evaluate (property tax rates)."

He stressed that any increase in city property taxes, which represent only about 10 percent of property owners' total tax bill, would not significantly impact that total.

The proposed 2013-14 budget, which will take effect Oct. 1, will be debated by the city commission over the next two months and at two formal public hearings in September before it is approved.

Crawford stressed he balanced the operating budget without tapping the city's substantial cash reserves which he projects will total $9.34-million in October.

Those available reserves include $4.4-million in emergency and unassigned cash, $3.34 million from the sale of the city's sewer system to Pinellas County, and $1.5 million formerly held in funds set aside for vehicle replacement, parking and John's Pass Village, as well as an additional $838,100 in Penny for Pinellas sales tax funds restricted for capital improvement projects.

According to the proposed capital outlay budget, the city will spend down much of those reserves, as well as borrow an expected $5.3 million through a bond issue, to pay for a new municipal complex that will include a new city hall, fire station, recreation center and ballfields.

Earlier in the week, the commission authorized its bond consultants to seek up to $6.5-million in bonds to finance the new municipal complex. The actual issuance of the bonds, however, will require further commission approval.

Other capital improvement projects planned for the coming year include burying utilities along portions of Gulf Boulevard, as well as initial stormwater and roadway improvements.

Other spending slated to jump next year will impact city employees who Crawford is proposing to give raises ranging from 3 to 3.5 percent.

Firefighters will receive a 3 percent hike under their current contract.

Department heads and Crawford, himself, are slated to receive the same increase.

But other employees, who just recently de-certified their union, the Communications Workers of America, will get a 3.5 percent pay hike.

"The former union employees have put their faith in you and me to be fair to them," Crawford said. "I wanted to show them we appreciate their trust."

He also plans to commission a salary survey covering all city employees in the coming year.

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