Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
In the second of three public meetings on September 17, 2013, the Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC) concluded its months of preliminary discussions, workshops and meetings by passing the city budget for the next fiscal year, which begins October 1, 2013. Only 6 members of the public attended the meeting, none of whom provided any public input or comment.
Mayor Pelican began the meeting by reading the Truth In Millage Statement (TRIM) as required by Chapter 200.065(4)(d) Florida Statutes:
- The taxing authority levying this property tax is the City Commission of the City of Fernandina Beach.
- The rolled back rate is 6.1800 mills per $1,000 of assessed value.
- The percentage increase is 1.69% over the rollback millage rate.
- The operating millage rate to be levied is 6.2844 mills per $1,000 of assessed value.
- The voter debt millage rate is .2236.
Vice Mayor Charlie Corbett made the motion to pass Resolution 2013-119 to adopt this millage rate. There was what seemed to be an uncomfortable pause before Commissioner Pat Gass seconded the motion. City Manager Joe Gerrity recapped for the commissioners the various meetings beginning in April involving city department heads, commissioners, himself and City Comptroller Patti Clifford to find savings and implement cuts in order to avoid a larger millage rate hike. He told commissioners there were some things in the resulting budget that some of them would like, some they would not. But he felt that such a situation was probably the sign of a good budget. He thanked city staff and the public for their input to the process.
The millage rate was approved 4-1 with Commissioner Arlene Filkoff voting against it.
The second item on the agenda was the adoption of Resolution 2013-120, the FY 2013-14 budget of $97,952,500. Again, Vice Mayor Corbett moved approval, and after a long pause Commissioner Pat Gass seconded the motion. The budget for the next fiscal year beginning October 1, 2013, was approved on a 4-1 vote with Filkoff again dissenting.
Following the vote, Gass said that she “was not exactly tickled” with the budget, pledging to do better next year. Mayor Pelican thanked City Manager Gerrity for his work, along with the city’s department heads, echoing Gerrity’s opinion that if not all commissioners are comfortable with it, it is probably a good budget.
Commissioner Filkoff thanked the staff. She explained that she voted against both measures because she does not feel that the current way of fashioning a budget by cutting staff and raising millage is sustainable. She expressed this belief throughout the budget process.
The meeting lasted approximately 8 minutes.