TREASURE ISLAND – Following a lengthy discussion, Treasure Island City Commissioners voted Sept. 3 to pass the city’s proposed millage rate and budget for fiscal 2014.
Both measures passed by a 3-2 vote on first reading with Alan Bildz and Carol Coward voting against.
The major cause for concern was a proposed increase in the city’s millage rate from the current 3.1368 mills to the proposed 3.3368 mills. The additional .20 mills would generate about $252,000 additional in revenue that City Manager Reid Silverboard wants to use to create funds for bridge and city infrastructure maintenance.
Bildz and Coward both agreed there is a need for the two funds but said the source should be existing revenue.
Commissioner Phil Collins argued in favor of the increase.
“The thing that concerns me here is that if we don’t do this, three or four years from now when that bridge needs some major repairs, we’re going to be in trouble,” said Collins. “We’re not going to have the funds to do it.”
As an example of the need for additional funds, Silverboard explained that the city has budgeted $200,000 to repaint the bridges leading into the city, but the latest estimate Public Works has received is about $375,000.
“So we’re under budget on that by $175,000,” Silverboard said. “That’s what I mean by things that you wouldn’t think are terribly expensive are expensive items.
“I understand about the difficulty with a millage increase,” he added. “We thought about it long and hard. But the fact of the matter is we have the bridges and we have no chance of the bridges being taken over by somebody else. They are an extensive asset and we need to protect them.”
Coward questioned why leftover funds from two previous budget years could not be used for the same purpose.
“My concern is we haven’t analyzed this enough,” Coward said. “I’m not opposed to it because I think it’s an important thing. But I don’t think we five, as a group, have analyzed it enough. If we want to put some money in a fund for that, let’s take it out of money we’re not using.”
Mayor Bob Minning said the city could no longer delay the issue.
“If there’s something you can look at and say here’s a specific item that we need to investigate that allows us to lower the millage, then I’m all for it,” he said. “If we just say we need to study it more, it’s just kicking the can down the road.
“We can’t continually say we’re going to do things and we need to look at other places and we’re not going to support this,” Minning continued. “You had the opportunity to not support this a long time ago. To get to our public hearing on the budget and not have concrete data to say ‘here, vote on this,’ is not doing anybody any good. We don’t have a big choice here folks.”
Collins agreed, noting that the millage increase would equate to $100 on a $500,000 home.
“We have to think in terms of what is in the best interest of the business of Treasure Island,” Collins said. “Nobody likes to spend any more money than they have to but I don’t think this is an inordinate amount to ask for.”
Silverboard’s proposed operating budget of $10.2 million is part of an overall budget of $17.6 million.
The second and final public hearing on the millage and budget is Wednesday, Sept. 18, 6 p.m.
In other action, commissioners:
• Passed a resolution to accept a settlement with Tampa Truck Center over a “lemon” garbage truck. According to terms of the agreement, Treasure Island will take back the truck that is said to be repaired. Tampa Truck Center has agreed to pay the city up to $10,000 in rental cost for a replacement truck and cost of repairs to a backup truck that was forced into use. TTC also agreed to issue a free 24-month warranty on the problem truck and reimburse the city for a rental truck, if necessary, over the next 24 months. TTC also agreed to fly in an American-LaFrance technician from South Carolina to repair the truck, if necessary.
• Passed a resolution to accept a proposal from World Risk Management for property insurance. The city’s premium is $86,335.
• Passed a resolution to accept a proposal from PRIA for workers compensation insurance. The premium for 2013-14 is $359,297.
• Passed a resolution authorizing a transfer of $5,800 from the Police Contraband Fund to the General Fund, police accounts to reimburse for expenses associated with the transfer of communications services to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.
• Passed a resolution opposing the Biggert Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012.