The last time I wrote summer was just beginning and we were all looking forward to warmer weather. Now, summer is almost over and I’m not so sure we’re ready for the cold stuff just yet. It certainly appears that the good weather has helped us along with all of our projects. All seem to be moving along just fine with one, Clark Park, completed and open. If you haven’t had a chance to see it yet, please stop by. It is quite impressive and my thanks to Michele Butler and the Lambros family for making it a reality.
At the time of this writing we are just finishing up on our annual budget. Our fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30 and the City Commission is set to approve the 2017 budget at its regular meeting on Sept. 12. That said, it was not an easy budget and the 2018 budget is looking even more difficult. People will ask, how can that be so with all that is going on? The simple answer is that revenue is not meeting the expenses of day to day government and, unlike the Federal Government, we are not allowed to go into debt. We must balance.
Not many people realize that over 50% of the properties in the City do not pay property taxes or are not taxable. Much of the new construction falls into this category and the projects that do pay taxes are under a “Brownfield” plan which directs their taxes right back into the construction project in the form of infrastructure. It’s all good in that it helps revitalize contaminated or blighted sites and creates a positive long term outlook. However, the short term problem for us is that no revenue goes into our general fund for day to day operations.
All of this is compounded by our rising expenses, much like those incurred by normal homeowners. Utility costs (power, water and sewer) go up for us just like everyone else. Not to mention the ever-rising costs associated with healthcare, retirement and other benefits. The good news (if you can consider it that) is that we are not alone and most municipalities in the state are in the same predicament. Staff will be working hard over the next several months to explore options and keep the City Commission and public informed.