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Council Discusses Budget

05/16/2011 at 4:18pm

Council Discusses Budget


Town Financial Officer Evelyn Wicks reported that the Town’s budget is on track at a Monday morning workshop held by the Town Council of Fort Myers Beach. Council members also discussed their desire for public input on an upcoming rates study for the water utility and listened to a presentation on the responsibilities of the Department of Finance.


First, Town Manager Terry Stewart brought the council up to speed on what’s going on with the Local Planning Agency and alcohol permits on the beach.


"Since the council made its policy decision back in December for a policy approach that beach COP (Consumption on Premises) would be controlled within the Land Development Code (LDC), it was sent back to the LPA so they could create that language, whether it be a ‘hands-off’ approach - that no one really wants - or one with very strong limitations and restrictions. There have since been two meetings held by the LPA where they discussed their displeasure with the council’s decision, but did not work on the language that the council had asked for. I’ve now met with three members thus far and they have been cordial meetings where no one was ‘browbeaten’ - we just got back on track.”


"The process now is for staff to get some guidance from LPA as to begin crafting regulations as to how they want to move forward.”


The council then moved on to a second quarter budget review.


"In general, we’re doing well,” Stewart began. "We’ve made some wise decisions and we are positioned to continue doing well. However, on June 1st, we get projected revenues for property taxes and there may be another reduction in values.”


Town Financial Director Evelyn Wicks said there aren’t any surprises in the budget and agreed with Councilman Alan Mandel that council should have a discussion on investment policy for the Town.


Mayor Larry Kiker asked when staff was going to start looking at new programs and opportunities that are beneficial to other municipalities - for instance, how Sanibel revenue shares with the county to get more money.


Town Staff agreed to hold a future workshop where they would look into those opportunities.


During a discussion of the water utility rates, Stewart said that a rate study would need to be done before the town borrows money for the water utility. There was also some discussion about discrepancies in the way condos and time-shares are billed.


The council agreed to ask the newspapers and condo associations to get the word out that the Town is seeking input. Anyone with variables they’d like to see included in the study is asked to notify Town Hall.


Kiker and Mandel then wanted to know how staff was planning for the upcoming debt the town will incur to fix the water utility


"Will the rates cover the $500,000 per year that it will take to cover the debt, plus normal yearly operations and expenses?” Mandel asked, and staff agreed to come back with a definitive answer, and to create a special reserve fund for debt payoff.


Finally, Accounting Coordinator Amanda Anderson and Wicks gave a presentation that explained the Finance Department’s responsibilities that include the management of twelve revenue funds plus the water utility, and financial reporting for all the Town’s departments. The department is also responsible for personnel and human resource management along with preparing materials for the annual audit.


Keri Hendry