Treasure Island Causeway

City commissioners April 17 will consider entering into an interlocal agreement with St. Petersburg to rehabilitate the Treasure Island Causeway and realign its medians to provide space for an extension of the Pinellas Trail.

TREASURE ISLAND – If passed at two public hearings, an ordinance will commit the city to reserve 0.20 mills of property tax revenue from its general fund each year to support Treasure Island Causeway operation, maintenance or bridge replacement.

Amy Davis, finance director and assistant city manager, explained the city’s 2019 budget, adopted Sept. 18, included a 0.10 millage rate increase to generate additional property tax revenue to support bridge and causeway operation, maintenance or eventual replacement.

Last year’s action was designed to supplement an initial 0.10 mills, previously set aside in 2014, to support causeway and bridge improvements, she advised commissioners during a work session Dec. 18.

“This (earlier) action by the City Commission was a first step towards setting aside funding for the Treasure Island Causeway and Bridge, but it does not provide enough monies to fund the required maintenance, nor address any future funding eventually needed to replace the bascule bridge,” she added.

“Longer-term funding requirements were discussed during the budget workshop held in July 2018, whereby staff recommended working toward a 0.50 millage rate allocation toward the causeway and bridge to support the maintenance and capital projects necessary,” Davis noted.

Adoption of this ordinance will increase the amount dedicated to causeway and bridge improvement from 0.10 mills to 0.20 mills; it will also change the classification of this component of the fund balance from “assigned” to “committed,” she said.

In accounting parlance required to comply with the Government Accounting Standards Board, an “assigned fund balance” refers to the mere “intended use of funds;” however, a “committed fund balance” category imposed at the highest level of decision making in this case the City Commission “requires a formal action at the same level to remove,” Davis explained.

The current General Fund balance assigned for the causeway and bridge at the end of the 2018 fiscal year is estimated at $239,600, with a final number not available until after the audit is completed, she told commissioners. An increase to 0.20 mils will generate about $359,700 during 2019 to fund capital maintenance projects scheduled including: replacing the lighting on the bascule and east and west bridges, replacing bridge hydraulic components, rehabbing major electrical bridge components and the bascule bridge AC replacement.

Commissioners will vote on whether to approve binding legislation setting aside the 0.20 mills in future budgets during their next two regular commission meetings.

In addition, Davis told city officials some good news – general fund revenue is expected be slightly better than anticipated or 108 percent of budget, leaving the city with projected revenue of $13.6 million

“Revenues have exceeded the budget mainly due to three reasons: building permit revenue exceeded budget by $398,914, the settlement for the reconstruction of the Central Beach Trail, and the receipt of FEMA reimbursement from Hurricane Irma,” she told commissioners in her yearly budget forecast review.