Plus: The commission approved 1.5% raises for city police officers.
BY WAYNE GRANT | STAFF WRITER
The City Commission approved adoption of the proposed millage rate and budget for the 2013-2014 fiscal year in a first reading Tuesday with only one member of the audience speaking against it and one commissioner voting no.
The commission will consider final approval in a 7 p.m. Sept. 17 public hearing, in commission chambers, at City Hall.
The proposed millage rate is $4.1181 per $1,000 of taxable property value, which is 4% above the rolled-back rate. The rolled-back rate would bring in the same funds as the prior year.
A person with a house valued at $150,000, with a homestead credit of $50,000, would pay $412 under the proposed millage rate. This would be $10 more than the same person would pay under the current millage rate of 4.0132.
Commissioner James Stowers voted against the millage and budget with no comment. After the meeting, he said he would feel more comfortable with keeping the millage the same as last year. He said he had expressed that opinion when the commission set the tentative rate at 4.1181 in July.
“I’m staying with what I said earlier,” he said.
A member of the audience, Marvin Miller of Riverside Drive, took the podium to offer suggestions for cutting costs. He said the city should freeze all spending on new projects, offer bonuses for workers who have cost-cutting ideas, combine travel for city staff, send firemen in SUVs instead of fire trucks when responding to emergency calls and check the inventory of all property not being used.
“We are facing financial hardship in Ormond Beach,” he said. “You should make adjustments like businesses do.”
Mayor Ed Kelley pointed out that, since 2004, the city had cut almost 60 personnel and the city has the third lowest millage of 16 municipalities in Volusia County.
City Manager Joyce Shanahan has said that more funds are needed because franchise fees and communications services tax dollars are decreasing $400,000, health insurance costs are budgeted to rise 10% and operating costs, such as fuel and oil, continue to rise.
In other business, the commission approved a 1.5% increase in pay for police effective immediately but is not retroactive. The negotiations have been going on with the police for several months after their contract, which ends Sept. 30, was reopened for wage negotiations, according to city documents. The impact on the annual budget will be $72,000.
The next contract period begins Oct. 1 and the city and police union will begin negotiating soon, according to Shelly Arzola, Human Resources Director.
“Our first meeting is Sept. 26,” Arzola said.
If no agreement is reached on a new contract, the “status quo” will remain until an agreement is reached. The police previously received a 1.5% raise in 2011.
The city is also currently negotiating with the fire department union for a wage increase, Arzola said.
Also at the Tuesday meeting, commissioners turned down two requests for fee increases from companies that do business for the city. Austin Outdoor and Economy Electric Co. Inc. both asked for increases of 1.75%. It would have meant an extra $20,372.47 for Austin Outdoor and $1,750 for Economy Electric.
Only Commissioners Richard Boehm and Troy Kent voted to award the increases.
“We should honor their request for an increase,” Boehm said of Austin Outdoor. “This is a local company that does a great job.”
According to city documents, staff recommended denying the increases because the city had experienced “significant revenue loss.”