Sarasota News Leader

04/11/2014

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The "Venice solution" was proposed by Mayor Shannon Snyder during the April 7 City Commission meeting. He said it "gives more predictability to future taxes." Deputy City Attorney Mike Connolly noted the Venice charter amendment "did not cap the millage rate." Instead, it requires Venice City Commission approval if the Venice city manager wants to offer his board a budget with a general fund showing an increase of more than 3 percent compared to the general fund of the previous fiscal year budget. This is not as easy as Connolly makes it sound, because the general fund comprises only about 30 percent of the total budget, or $18 million of Sarasota's $60million budget (using rounded numbers). Any increase in the Sarasota County Property Appraiser's roll — as property values begin to climb out of the recessionary slump — would be added to the budget even if the millage rate were held constant. Using rough figures, Lege scratched out a sce nario in which a 10percent jump in the tax roll would push the general fund beyond the 3percent cap Snyder suggests. As property values fell, many other cities in Florida raised their tax rates to compensate. Sarasota held its rate constant and coped with the reduced income by laying off about 30 percent of the city payroll and tapping deeply into city reserves. Lege will first review the past fiscal year's budget with the commissioners on Monday, pointing out how the reality compared with the estimates used in its preparation. Members of the public can follow along if they use the city's new Popular Annual Financial Report, available at City Hall, or they can go online at http://sarasotagov.org/PDF/FIN/ PAFR/2013%20PAFR.pdf. From there, Lege will look at the current year's budget, now at the halfway mark. Then he will begin to point out the Fiscal Year 2014 15 projections for revenues and expenses. He will conclude his presentation with a set of questions, seeking direction from the City Commission to refine or change the proposed budget that will start Oct. 1. As always this time of year, one imponder able facet of the budget process is how it might be affected by action of the Florida Legislature. House and Senate members in Tallahassee still have two more weeks before adjournment. % The City Commission will start on its 2015 fiscal year budget next week, though the County Commission already has had workshops on its 2015 spending plan. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader April 11, 2014 Page 70

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