Carrabelle’s proposed 2016-17 budget will hold the millage rate at 9 mills for a third year, using an injection of funds amassed under the Community Redevelopment Act.
In addition, Carrabelle commissioners will be asked to weigh a proposal from Mayor Brenda La Paz that the city consider hiring a part-time code enforcement officer. Commissioner Keith Walden said this would have to be someone who lived outside the county with no family connections.
Keisha Messer is licensed as a code enforcement officer and currently fills that position in addition to her duties as city clerk agreed. She said she does not have sufficient time for code enforcement and feels uncomfortable performing some of the officer’s duties.
She said that any code enforcement officer will have to be accompanied by a police officer on some calls because in some cases illegal activities other than littering are carried on in houses out of compliance with city codes for debris.
La Paz also asked commissioners to consider if the city should earmark an additional $10,000 to $12,000 for debris removal. She said litter and abandoned trash is a constant problem. “I can’t tell you the number of complaints I get,” she said.
La Paz said she fears the county’s new litter law will prevent county trucks from removing roadside debris within Carrabelle.
According to County Coordinator Michael Morón, the ordinance prohibits county trucks from removing debris that is not displayed on the public right-of-way in front of the property where it was generated.
At the meeting, La Paz said several streets and alleys in Carrabelle are perpetual dump sites.
In a telephone interview, Fonda Davis, the county’s director of solid waste, confirmed that county trucks will not pick up misplaced waste in the future, either in Carrabelle or Apalachicola.
With an anticipated $1.08 million in estimated expenditures and $1.29 million in receipts, the city should finish the next fiscal year with $1.21 million in reserve for contingency. In addition, there is $10,000 in the cemetery reserve; $10,000 in vehicle replacement reserve; $112,000 generated by the CRA and $24,167 reserve for balance forward, for a total of $1.23 million.
Ad valorem taxes are projected to increase from $850,000 during the current fiscal year to $900,000 for the upcoming one. In addition the city will receive an $8,000 increase in state revenue sharing; a $5,000 increase in state sales tax money, and an $8,000 increase in communications services tax for a total of $21,000.
Another $27,000 will be saved because the Carrabelle’s Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) has picked up a portion of the compensation for city staff since staffers perform many clerical tasks for the agency.
A CRA district is a designated special district in which any increases in property taxes beyond a baseline year are set aside to support economic development projects within that district. Carrabelle created its CRA baseline year in 1992 for a district from Marine Street north to US 98, and US 98 from Welcome Park to the Tillie Miller Bridge.
La Paz and Commissioners Cal Allen and Walden were present at the meeting. Frank Mathes and Olivia Massey did not attend. Four residents attended the budget workshop and few questions were raised
At the request of Streets and Roads Director William Massey commissioners earmarked an additional $5000 from the city’s reserve for balance forward for safety equipment, hydration supplies, a new truck and two new lawnmowers for his department, earmarking a total of $20,000 for equipment.
Funding for road signage was increased from $1,000 to $2,000. La Paz remarked that the city has posted numerous “No Dumping” signs and plans to post more.
The mayor asked for suggestions on how to spend the remaining $19,000 in reserve for balance forward.“This is the first time in a few years we’ve had any operating capital,” she said.
Messer said the water and sewer budget is not substantially changed from last year. Estimated receipts for water and sewer are $1.97 million, and expenditures $1.81 million, leaving a reserve balance of $164,500, almost double last year’s reserve of $86,850.
The mayor said water and sewer owes the general fund $390,000 from a loan in 2013, and suggested that if some or all of the loan could be repaid, the funds could be earmarked for a portion of the down payment on the proposed new city hall.
The next Carrabelle budget workshop is scheduled for 5:01 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 8.