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Inverness budget proposal trims taxes, targets upgrades

The city's proposed budget includes a tiny tax decrease and, for the first time, a capital improvement plan.

The operating budget, which includes all expenses less capital improvements and transfers out, would be $5.7-million for the 1996-97 fiscal year. In the current fiscal year, the operating budget is $5.9-million.

The total budget, which includes all appropriated expenditures and reserves, stands at $13.1-million, up from $10.1-million. The increase is due to money set aside for capital improvements, as well as increased reserves.

Taxpayers' main concern is the millage rate, which, if city leaders get their way, would drop from 6.8254 to 6.8154.

A mill is equivalent to $1 of tax for each $1,000 of assessed, non-exempt real property. If a house is assessed at $50,000 for tax purposes and its owner claims a $25,000 homestead exemption, the city tax bill would be $170.39, compared with $170.64 this year.

As expected, city budget planners have eliminated the assistant police chief position that has remained vacant since Chuck Berridy resigned amid controversy. A new position was added: a clerical job with the title "assistant to the chief." The pay is $24,398 per year.

The capital improvement plan acts as a blueprint for the future. It shows City Council members what large-scale items, such as a computer system for the police department, are needed.

The proposed budget includes $300,000 in the general fund for capital spending.

The budget won't become final until the council completes a series of hearings and formally adopts the millage rate in September.