April 27, 2018 12:00 a.m.
It’s that wonderfully exciting time of year again- BUDGET PREPARATION! No, I am serious: I enjoy being part of a team that puts together such an exactingly detailed document that charts the path of the community for the next year. It is almost magical getting the numbers to fit like a beautiful puzzle.
For over twenty years I’ve had the privilege of preparing municipal budgets. I’ve had outstanding assistance (like now) and I’ve had minimal assistance (he was in prison). I’ve had a nice supply of revenues to present to the governing board and I’ve faced other boards like a pauper. We’ve always made it work, and it really is a beautiful thing.
I would encourage all of you to celebrate the start of the new budget season by reviewing (or more likely, look at it for the first time) the current budget. The entire budget document can be found on the City’s web site at www.fbfl.us/DocumentCenter/View/17740. The entire document is approximately 350 pages.
The first two dozen pages present some background information, my budget message, and a variety of statistical data, most of which is not related to the budget. The budget is the most important document produced by the City. A visitor, even slightly versed in municipal finance, should at least be able to grab a copy of the budget and easily read what we are about and where we are headed.
The budget includes an organizational chart that shows the relationship and staffing levels of all departments. He chart indicates that the official City staffing includes 188 full-time employees, 58 part-time employees, and 74 seasonal employees. These numbers are fluctuate throughout the year as employees leave and some are added due to developing needs and services. Nonetheless, next year’s personnel changes will be correlated to the aforementioned numbers: even though an employee has worked for the City for several months, if that employee was not part of our October 1 “headcount,” the employee gets officially added in next year’s budget.
Some personnel changes have already been discussed by the City Commission: an arborist, a conservation manager/environment engineer, and additional police officers (as mandated recently by the State Legislature for additional school security). As Department Directors review and prepare their budgets, I anticipate additional staffing requests.
Other data included in the budget document include the miles of streets, miles of storm sewers, and number of street lights (almost 1,200). We have many recreational amenities: 3 community/recreation centers, 18 parks, and nearly 500 acres of park space.
We have two fire stations staffed by over thirty fire personnel that responded to nearly 2,700 calls (and an additional 1,300 rescue calls). We have a Police Department with forty staff. The sworn officers issued over 3,400 citations and answered 23,000 calls for service. That is a critical snapshot of the level of service provided by the City’s public safety personnel.
The City has over one hundred miles of sanitary sewer lines, servicing 7,200 accounts, and treating 1.7 million gallons of sewage per day (the treatment capacity is 3.5 million gallons). Approximately 125 miles of water lines service 8,000 accounts and pump 3.3 million gallons per day (treatment capacity: 18.2 million gallons). The Stormwater Department maintains over 1,700 drainage structures and the Building Department conducted 7,600 inspections as part of issuing 3,700 permits.
All of that information is before the budget starts to present some numbers.
A foundational number for the City’s budget is the Assessed Valuation: this number reflects the total value of all the property in the City. The City’s 2017 Total Valuation was almost $2.441 BILLION. A key facet of that number is that the City’s total valuation previously peaked at $2.467 billion in 2008, meaning that the aggregate “losses” after 2008 will likely be recovered as we move into the next budget. Of the $2.441 billion of assessed valuation, $1.713 billion is due to real property (real estate).
When combining the $1.713 billion of real property with the personal property valuation of $300,000, the City’s budget is based upon a total taxable value of $2 billion dollars. The millage levied has two components- operations (6.0000 mills) and voter-approved debt (0.2097). Multiply the $2 billion taxable by the total millage rate of 6.2097 (.0062097) and you discover that the City’s tax base generates approximately $12.5 million for the City.
Now we’re cookin’ with numbers. As we move through the budget process, I’ll provide more information. Remember: www.fbfl.us/DocumentCenter/View/17740.