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Council plans to lower property taxes in 2012-13

June 20, 2012
By BOB PETCHER, , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Taxpayers on Fort Myers Beach will be contributing less in property taxes to Town government next fiscal year due to an offset in paying a full year of a utility tax.

At its meeting Monday evening, the Fort Myers Beach Town Council unanimously adopted a tentative millage rate of 0.79 mils for 2012-13, down from 0.8144 mils (a 3.37 percent decrease) from the current millage rate. The proposed 2012-13 budget is slated at $5,550,746, a 19 percent decrease from last year's $5,561,551 budget.

Council lowered the tentative operating ad valorem rate to offset a full year of collection of the Public Service Tax. The tax was implemented on April 1, 2012, with $397,376 estimated for collection on last year's budget. The PST collection estimate for the entire upcoming fiscal year is $715,277, thus property tax revenue has been reduced by $317,901.

Article Photos

Members of the Town of Fort Myers Beach Parks & Recreation Department from Bay Oaks and Cultural Resources pose with the Town Council after Mayor Larry Kiker (second from left) read a proclamation designating July as National Parks & Recreation Month to Parks Director Patty Evans (far right in black).

"This establishes a millage rate, which you say you are going to begin at as per Florida law. It can always go lower than that as you work through your budget cycle but it can never go higher than that," said Town Manager Terry Stewart. "You asked us to modify the millage rate in order to reflect the amount of revenue that we were bringing in with the Public Service Tax."

Two hearings are officially in place to consider the final millage rate and budget. The first hearing is set for Sept. 4, at 6:30 p.m., while the second is scheduled for Sept. 17, also at 6:30 p.m.

Stewart warned Council there is still work to do on the budget. He reported a substantial gap in the budget even if the millage rate were to remain at 0.8144 mils,

"If you were to keep the millage rate the same, even with the revenue that we are going to get from the Public Service Tax, where the budget is right now in its present form, there is about a $55,000 gap that you would need to either resolve through reserves or reducing the budget," he said. "We'll work our way through this."

Laguna Shores channel to be dredged

Council unanimously awarded a construction contract to Fort Myers-based Zep Construction, Inc to begin relocation work of the Laguna Shores navigation channel.

Funded by a grant from West Coast Inland Navigational District, the cost of the low bid amount is $239,750.56 and expenditure is not to exceed $20,000 for construction management by Hans Wilson and Associates. Fort Myers' Kelly Brothers Marine Construction will be used as the subcontractor on the project.

The Town is not responsible for any contingency funds on the 168-day contract. Stewart stated that Town staff work on permitting and other oversights has saved thousands of dollars to date.

"We are going to manage this very tightly," he said. "I don't expect there will be any additional costs. (Town Environmental Sciences Coordinator) Keith Laakkonen has really worked hard on this, and he will be watching over it and making sure it is done correctly.

"I'd like to take this moment to thank the mayor, vice mayor, council, Terry Stewart and Keith Laakkonen for stepping up and taking care of the dredging project that failed 1-1/2 years ago," said Roy Hinkelman, president of the Laguna Shores Home Owners Association.

Times Square Sunset Celebrations receive yearlong permit

Council unanimously approved the recurring special event permit to Times Square Merchant and Event Association, Inc. for the Times Square Sunset Celebrations during five evening hours for the period of June 22, 2012 to June 15, 2013.

The association has been holding sunset celebration concerts within the square each and every Friday and Saturday since December 2011. The approval meets the standards of the recurring special events as provided in Ordinance 12-04.

The permit does not include a request for open containers or extension of premises associated with the application. Should event coordinators modify the event to include alcoholic beverages, Council approval would be needed at that time.

Lien Reduction Ordinance approved

Council unanimously approved Ordinance 12-05, regarding Lien Reduction.

The ordinance repeals prior ordinances concerning code enforcement liens and adopts new regulations that govern lien reduction requests.

Council was introduced to the ordinance, which is similar to the one adopted by the City of Sanibel, on May 21. Future requests for reduction or release of lien will be placed on the Council consent agenda for approval of the Town Manager's recommendation concerning the reduction request. If a Council member does not agree with the recommendation, the item can be pulled from the consent agenda and separately voted on by Council.

There are no outstanding lien requests sitting in front of Town officials at this time.

"I think this is a good process," said Town Attorney Marilyn Miller. "It'll come forward with a recommendation from the Town manager and if any Council member doesn't like the recommendation, they can pull it and discuss it. Likewise for the property owner, if they are not happy with the recommendation, they can address you and you can decide."

Art to go up at Seafarer's site

Before Beach Elementary is back in session, one can expect to see student artwork on the fence around the Seafarer's site.

County commissioners approved paying for the cost of the materials associated with the painting project, according to Councilwoman Jo List

"Randy (Norton) at Bay Oaks will be overseeing the project for the kids," she said. "They will paint on the mesh that is on the fence, so it should stand up pretty well. A couple of professional artists will be with the kids while they are painting to give them guidance."

NOTE: Council is taking the month of July off for its regular meeting schedule. It meets next on Aug. 6, at 9 a.m.



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