INDIAN ROCKS BEACH — The City Commission recently unanimously approved the final budget and millage rate for fiscal year 2021-22.
During the second and final public hearing on the items, held on Sept. 22 in the City Hall auditorium, the commission voted 4-0 in favor of setting the millage, or the tax rate used to calculate local property taxes, at 1.8326 mils, which reportedly represents the lowest rate in Pinellas County.
One mill is equal to $1 for every $1,000 of assessed property value.
The commission also voted 4-0 in favor the proposed final budget of $8,349,500. Commissioner Ed Hoofnagle was absent and excused from the meeting.
According to City Manager Gregg Mims, the fact there were no public comments or complaints about the figures, which had been discussed at length throughout the months-long budget process, is proof the city is doing things right.
“I would like it to be on the record that I think the process that we use, working with the commission and the public, from the mill rate to the proposed document to the details of the projects that are listed in the Capital Improvement Plan, we did not receive by any form or method a single objection to the budget,” Mims said. “I think it speaks well to the process that we use and the openness that we have with the public and the people that own property here.”
Mims said it’s clear “we run a pretty tight ship here” evidenced by everyone working together to come up with creative solutions to the city’s unique issues, including eliminating the building department in favor of utilizing the county’s services.
“We’ve been into that (contract) probably for two years and I’ve had two complaints the whole time,” he said. “When we had our own shop, it was almost a daily thing.”
Mims also thanked the commission, Finance Director Dan Carpenter, and the public “for the positive support they’ve had for our budget,” and Mayor Joanne “Cookie” Kennedy was quick to return the praise.
“I just want to say thank you, too,” she told Mims. “In the eight years that you’ve been here, you have brought to us scaled-down (versions) of many things. You just run a very tight ship.”
The commission voted 4-0 in favor of the budget, which features $3.9 million in general fund expenditures and includes upgrades to the tennis courts at Kolb Park and new fencing at Campalong Field in 2022. A five-year Capital improvement Plan is highlighted by drainage enhancement projects, the dune walkover construction and phase two of the Gulf Boulevard Undergrounding project, which will receive an allocation of more than $5.6 million in Penny for Pinellas funds.
The commission also unanimously approved an ordinance amending chapter 50 of the city’s code regarding solid waste, which increases the fees and charges related to picking up trash and garbage.
According to the budget document, residents will see a 6 percent rate increase for solid waste removal, the city’s first such increase in three years.
“I think the increase is understandable due to the tipping fee changes,” Hoofnagle said during the item’s first reading on Sept. 8, referring to recent increases at the county’s solid waste facility. The item received no public or commission comments during the second and final reading.