The first budget meeting was held on July 12 and several department heads gave brief presentations. As the back-up was not distributed to the public for these presentations, it was a little difficult to follow. Our operating fund is higher this year and we will be working with $31,961,947. But several departments presented their "wish-lists" that are not included in the proposed 2017 budget. I was there for the following:
PBSO: The PBSO's budget will go up by almost 2% or $272,219 for a total outlay of $12,465,000. The city plans on asking for 5 additional sworn officers and this is not in the proposed budget. What I didn't know was all the crime at our beach. Cpt. Bear wants two dedicated men at our beach property. There has been an uptick in crime probably due to the drug epidemic. There are more code violations and the PBSO assists in some of these.
Public Services Department: Had requested 3 additional street maintenance workers at a cost of $57,179 each and this total cost of $172,000 is not included in the proposed 2016/2017 budget. Jamie Brown is also requesting two vehicles for potholes that will be right under $100,000--a roller for $38k and a paver for $62k. The budget for basic street maintenance is lower for 2016/2017 or down 7.36%.
Community Sustainability: William Waters, Director, spoke to the business licenses for rentals and commercial establishments. There are 1900 property owners not paying the required fees. 25% of the commercial properties lack any business license at all. Of the Residential properties, 39% lack a residential license. Mr. Waters needs additional resources to tackle the non-compliant properties. He would like to start a new division whose duties would be to improve the compliance of Business Licenses including the Use & Occupancy inspections. The cost for this is estimated at $866,000 for the first year. This is not included in the proposed budget.
Several departments have raised their budgets: City Commission, City Manager, City Clerk, Internal Auditor, Community Sustainability, Police, Grounds Maintenance, Library, Leisure Services Rentals.
No one mentioned nor did anyone ask why the total budget for 2017 is $10,077,205 less than last year.