Susan Hardee Steger
In less than 15 minutes, the Fernandina Beach city commission heard from the public and approved a millage rate increase and final budget for fiscal year 2012 – 2013. City manager Joe Gerrity began the meeting stating that the budget up for approval was formed after six budget workshops, numerous one on one sessions with commissioners, and hard bargaining with city vendors. The budget includes projects involving the library, the Humane Society, railroad crossings, and beach renourishment.
During public hearings, city resident Andy Curtin, the only city resident to address the commission, asked that the commission and staff manage its finances carefully during the upcoming year. “This is quite an increase over previous years,” says Curtin. This year’s increase in operating millage over the rollback rate is 10.39%.
Motions to approve the millage rate increase and the budget were made by Commissioner Bunch and quickly seconded by Commissioner Pelican. Both passed 4 -1 with Poynter casting the dissenting vote.
Commissioner Poynter, who voiced opposition to the proposed budget from its inception, said, “Next year’s budget needs to start now.” He further stated that the city needs to extend an olive branch to the county and work together as partners on beach renourishment, police and fire services. Expectations are that the 2013-2014 budget will prove to be even more challenging than the 2012-2o13 adopted budget.
September 18, 2012 8:50 p.m.