The Fort Myers Beach Fire District Board of Commissioners made short work in adopting the tentative millage rate and budget for fiscal year 2012-13.
After listening to an administrative presentation, the fire commissioners set the tentative rate at 2.5500 mills ($2.55 per $1,000 of net taxable assessed value) and the budget at $13,867,166. The proposed rate is 0.0200 mils lower than the current millage rate of 2.5700.
A final budget hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 18, at 6 p.m. at Town Hall.
"What is being proposed is a true tax decrease," said FMB Fire Commission Chairman David Brower. A lower TRIM rate, less expenditures and a reduced overall figure in ad valorem taxes were identified.
Proposed ad valorem taxes for the local fire district in 2012-13 are $7,341,116 or 52.9 percent of the overall revenues. For year ending Sept. 30, 2012, those property taxes figures stand at $7,610,528 or 55.7 percent of the overall revenues. District-wide, the reduction in property tax values was told to be $64 million.
"Our ad valorem taxes with the drop in the millage rate should be about $269,000 less," said Financial Director Jane Thompson. "However, we only budget 95 percent of the ad valorem taxes by law and, historically, we always collected 100 percent of what the millage rate would render. We still have managed to keep the millage rates under the roll back rates."
Charges for services, relating to ambulance service, was the second-leading money draw for the fire district at $543,100, but only 3.9 percent of total collections.
"We anticipate ambulance billing to be greater," said Thompson. "It'll probably be better the following year because we will be cycling out some of the problematic issues from the old vendor."
Beach Fire Administration provided the board with a power-point presentation to illustrate budget goals, budget highlights and a personnel hierarchy to help meet its mission.
The listed budget goals were 1) remain conscientious of current economic impacts on community; 2) maintain expected level of service; 3) maintain reserves; 4) foster educational and advancement opportunities; and a continued focus on operational efficiencies.
In prior years, reserves were collected in anticipation of the building of station #32 and station #33. Proposed reserves stand at $5,526,000.
During the presented budget highlights, Thompson reported a fund balance in excess of reserves at the end of fiscal year 2011-12 to be approximately $800,000, an excess split between reserves and operational budget.
She also communicated an increase in education in the budget "to create an environment for promotional opportunities," while heart monitors, computer equipment and fire fighter self-contained breathing apparatus bottles are being budgeted for capital assets.
To meet its mission, daily operations at the fire district involve 15 on-duty fire fighters, 10 credential paramedics, three company officers and a shift commander. The current fire administration is made up of a fire chief, operations chief, medical officer, fire marshal and two prevention specialists, technology administrator, finance director, administrative assistant and a human resource director, which is not filled or budgeted.