Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
August 22, 2015 4:12 p.m.
(Originally published as part of a larger post covering actions of the Fernandina Beach City Commission Regular meeting held on August 18, 2015.)
On December 4, 2013, the City of Fernandina Beach conducted a comprehensive rate study of Water and Sewer rates. The study proposed that annual adjustments satisfy annual projections of operating and capital costs, ensure adequate net income to satisfy annual debt service and rate covenants on outstanding debt obligations and establish and/or maintain operating reserves at targeted levels during the projection period. Ordinance 2015-14 recommended an annual increase of 3 percent for water and sewer rates adopted in 2014.
The proposed changes are listed below in yellow:
Commissioner Pat Gass said that she would not be able to support the fee increase, citing her reason. “At the present time, and the way the budget is going,” she said, “there’s going to be a tax increase because we are not going to lower the millage rate to compensate for the increase in property values [rollback rate]. We are also going to borrow money and extend the life of the franchise fee loan for another seven years. … We just seem to be hitting the taxpayers every which way but loose. If we are not going to give them a helping hand on one side, then we need to do something on the other. In order to recover from a recession and to move forward, it can’t be just take take take and spend spend spend. We’re going to have to cut them some slack somewhere, whether in the millage rate or the borrowing or the franchise fee loan extension. Somewhere you’ve got to cut them a break. So this is where I’m taking my stand. I don’t necessarily think anybody else is coming with me, but no, I will not be voting for this fee schedule increase.”
The ordinance passed on a 3-2 vote on first reading, with both Gass and Vice Mayor Johnny Miller voting against the measure.