SEMINOLE — The City Council has capped the millage rate at its current level.
On July 26, council members voted 4-0 to keep the city millage rate at 2.4793 mills, or almost $2.48 for every $1,000 of assessed property value. The council will have to decide in September — at the same time it votes on its fiscal 2023 city budget — whether to leave the millage rate there or lower it, but nothing higher would be possible.
On July 1, council members received a proposed FY23 budget totaling $25.2 million in expenditures. The fiscal plan tags $1.2 million for recreation center improvements and $609,000 for street paving, the two biggest proposed expenditures.
Council members and staff spent the morning of July 23 conducting their annual budget-review workshop. In September, the council will vote on a final fiscal plan, which is likely to look much like the initial proposed budget except for modest tweaks.
For now, residents can rest assure that any increases in their annual tax bills due to rising property values should be minimal, thanks to the unchanged millage rate.
Three council members were absent for the millage cap vote, due to illness or other matters: Vice Mayor Jim Olliver, Thom Barnhorn and Chris Burke.
Mayor Leslie Waters noted the vote ensures a 16th consecutive year without a hike in the city millage rate.
“That is very honorable and hard to do,” Waters said. “It’s a fiscally conservative approach to government.”
Council member Roger Edelman joined Waters in complementing City Manager Ann Toney-Deal and Finance Director Allison Broihier for their work on the budget.
Regarding another year without a millage rate increase, Edelman said, “I would question whether any (other) city around has that record.”
Two public hearings will be held — on Wednesday, Sept. 14, and Tuesday, Sept. 27 — prior to a council vote on the final millage rate and budget. The new budget will go into effect on Oct. 1.
Council generally meets the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month but voted to push the first hearing by one day to avoid overlapping with a budget hearing of the Pinellas County School Board.
The filing period for persons wishing to run for mayor or two open council seats is just around the corner, running from Aug. 2 to Aug. 15. Candidate packets with filing information are available now at Seminole City Hall.
Two three-year council seats will be filled in November’s nonpartisan municipal elections — those now held by Olliver, completing his first term on the council, and Barnhorn, the longest-serving council member at 16 years.
No word on whether the pair will face any opposition or stand unopposed, as was the case with council members Burke and Trish Springer, who were reelected last year.
Waters also is up for re-election. It’s unclear if there will be any opposition for the mayor, who has served in her office since 2013 and was interim mayor the prior year.
In Seminole, the mayor also serves on council. So, any council members interested in the position would need to resign from the council to run for mayor.
Council members Edelman and Tom Christy won’t be up for re-election until next year
Field of honor
The council voted, without dissent, to allow the Kiwanis Breakfast Club of Seminole to hold its eighth annual Field of Honor at City Hall.
The event involves the flying of American flags, adorned with ribbons honoring individual veterans, around the pond in an area in front of City Hall and in front of the adjacent U.S. Post Office. The flags, sponsored by area individuals, businesses and organizations, will be on display during the month of November.
The council also proclaimed August to be Purple Heart month in the city, honoring members of the U.S. Armed Forces wounded or killed in action.