DUNEDIN — Despite challenges stemming from the pandemic, city officials expect property tax revenue to remain strong in the upcoming fiscal year.
Property taxes are projected to increase by more than $1 million, or eight percent in all funds, and city officials expect an increase of more than $535,500 or 6 percent in other taxes, such as local utility and communications taxes.
Staff is proposing that the property tax rate for the next fiscal year remain at 4.13 mills, wrote City Manager Jennifer Bramley in her executive summary of the proposed operating and capital budget.
One mill is equal to $1 for every $1,000 of assessed property value.
Commissioners on July 15 unanimously gave tentative approval to the tax rate, which has been in effect since 2016.
Expenditures in the general fund or operating budget are expected to increase $2.26 million or 7 percent over fiscal year 2021.
Here are some other budget highlights:
• Although there were department requests for three full-time employees to meet service needs, city officials say revenues are not strong enough to support the additional recurring expense of new positions.
While city officials feel the requested positions are merited, the personnel requests will not be filled in fiscal year 2022, which begins Oct. 1, due to budget constants and the city's commitment to strictly maintain current services at this time.
• Preservation and maintenance of existing facilities will drive major spending in the proposed budget, with $605,000 dedicated to citywide air-conditioning replacements, exterior facility painting and roof replacements.
• Development activity is continuing throughout the city with several major residential projects coming onto the tax rolls and boosting property tax revenues.
Though the value of new construction remains relatively steady as redevelopment and new construction projects begin, city officials expect the trend to slowly begin tapering off in the next several years.
By the end of fiscal year 2021, the city expects to have issued 5,000 permits for a construction value of $125 million.
The city expects to issue about 5,000 permits in the upcoming fiscal year at the same value.
• The city is conducting a sustainability study of the Dunedin Golf Club.
The study will include a facility review identify capital improvement needs, market analysis, operational analysis, identify new or enhanced revenue opportunities among other undertakings.
The study will be used to determine any needed subsidies to the club as well as terms for a new agreement with the city and Dunedin Golf club.
• The relocation of the parks operations from the park maintenance facility to the Englebert Complex, $1.32 million; Highlander Pool replacement, $1 million; Jerry Lake parking lot renovation, $420,000; pram shed replacement, $350,000; and athletic field renovations, $100,000, are some of the capital expenditures proposed in the proposed budget.
• The water/wastewater master plan is moving forward. On the wastewater side of the master plan, a number of large capital improvement projects will be designed and built over the next couple of years. To fund these projects, a second loan is being requested for wastewater services because of the prevailing favorable interest rates.
• In the next fiscal year, the city will continue to move forward with construction of a new City Hall complex at project cost of $22.8 million.
• The city's estimated total taxable value was more than $3 billion for fiscal year 2021. The taxable value is expected to increase to $3.3 billion in fiscal year 2022, a 7.94 percent increase.
• New economic development initiatives for the next fiscal year include planning for the reuse of the City Hall site, additional streetscaping, implementation of a downtown landscaping master plan and continued support for business recovery efforts.
In an effort to provide adequate parking downtown, the Community Redevelopment Agency has designated funds for parking through lease parking agreements.
City officials are holding workshops on the budget. The next workshop is slated for Tuesday, Aug. 10, 9 a.m., at City Hall.
The City Commission is expected to give tentative approval to the tax rate and budget at its meeting Thursday, Sept. 16, and final approval at its meeting Thursday, Sept. 23. The meetings begin at 6 p.m. at City Hall.