We are number 10 of 391 | News, Sports, Jobs – FORT MYERS

City of Fort Myers Beach Manager, Roger Hernstadt

Budget preparations for fiscal 2023 are underway and the City Council has scheduled public hearings on the proposed budget after 5 p.m. in September.

City employees strive to use City revenue in a cost-conscious, efficient, and effective manner. Challenges from Red Tide, Blue/Green Algae, Hurricanes and COVID-19 have been met thanks to our solid contingency strategies and financial reserves, while our prices and fees have remained stable “low” compared to our municipal colleagues.

To that end, our preliminary general operating budget for fiscal 2023 has been prepared at the same rate of $0.95 million per $1,000 of property value as the past two fiscal years.

Every year since 2017, city employees have achieved a “carry forward savings” of unexpected income combined with expenses below the approved budget. And while it’s true that we’ve seen additional legally capped property value growth, we’ve also seen significant inflation recently. In 2022 alone, inflation is estimated at around 10 percent. Increases in property values ​​result in additional property taxes of 4.2 percent. However, this only partially addresses/mitigates this economic reality.

As you may recall, in September 2021, the City Council passed the .95 millage (up from .87) as a strategy to fund the redevelopment of the Bay Oaks Recreational Campus, Bayside Park (construction just completed), and Times Square . This strategy funded a $10 million loan supplemented with grants to build these three projects. This loan is not scheduled to start repaying until December 2023, but we started repaying this year.

When we compare the city versus other municipalities based on Florida Borough 2021 millage rates, only nine other municipalities in the state of Florida have a lower millage rate than the city of Fort Myers Beach. We should be very proud to be ranked 381st out of 391 local governments in Florida, including one municipality that will be disbanded if the rate stays at 0.95 million.

The City Council will debate an increase of up to 0.04 mills to fund recurring new initiatives. Initiatives include increased public safety, beach rehabilitation, street safety lighting and workers’ housing, among others.

Fortunately, due to strong financial management, the city has $2 million available to fund new initiatives. However, the list of proposed initiatives exceeds $3 million. The City Council is faced with the difficult task of reviewing the inflationary impact on fees and prioritizing and allocating funds for some of these improvements.

Assuming the rate is ultimately adjusted to 0.99 million at September’s budget hearings, the city’s ranking would then be 380 out of 391, up one notch to the 11th lowest in the state of Florida, including a dissolved municipality .

At $0.99 million, it is estimated that an occupied property valued at $538,000 would pay $512 per year to the City of Fort Myers Beach. On this sample lot, the landowner would also pay Lee County $2,182; $3,263 to Lee County Public Schools and $1,608 to the Fort Myers Beach Fire Control District, among others, based on the preliminary information available.

Another important program, separate from general fund and property taxes, is our Utilities Division’s infrastructure projects. City officials, with the support of the council, have tirelessly implemented water and stormwater improvements funded by rate adjustments recommended by an independent rate advisor. This collaboration has allowed us to go beyond our joint project with Lee County to complete the downtown streets. We are now bidding to upgrade the 16 most vulnerable local roads with the greatest risk of flooding in 2023.

Project costs to date have been below original estimates and have been funded through the government’s very low-interest revolving financing program. Rainwater maintenance efforts have been increased and are now self-funded with no further contributions from the general fund or gas taxes.

In summary, as a result of the collaboration, the city’s treasury remains strong, our reserves are stable, and we are in a better position to tackle new initiatives. As directed by the City Council, we can continue to innovate and replace existing assets and implement new strategic improvements in our city.

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