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Council sets rolled-back millage rate

July 29, 2015
By BRIAN WIERIMA ( , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

The first steps of setting a budget for the City of Sanibel was taken Tuesday by the City Council, after it approved a rolled-back millage rate of 1.9139 for the 2015 tax year.

The millage rate is the amount per $1,000 that is used to calculate taxes on property. Millage rates are most often found in personal property taxes, where the expressed millage rate is multiplied by the total taxable value of the property to arrive at the property taxes due.

A rolled-back rate refers to the property tax rate as it changes from year to year, in relation to property values. Under Florida law, if a rolled-back rate is adopted by local government, that government is not increasing taxes, even if the rate itself increases.

Article Photos

The Sanibel City Council and Mayor Kevin Ruane (far left) recognized four city employees for 30 years of service. They include (L to R) David Fehlandt (tradesworker, Public Works), Karen Gudella (fiscal assistant, Finance Department), James Jordan (Planning Director, Planning Department) and William Tomlinson (Police Chief, Police Department).


"With the millage rate at 1.9139, we can only go lower, not higher," said Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane.

The City Council also approved debt service millages, which locks those numbers in, and include: sewer at .2026; land acquisition at .0761 and the Sanibel Recreation Center set at .1179.

The voted debt service levies stand at $8,635,291, while the draft of the 2016 budget has a mark of $55.7 million. That means the city-wide operating budget is 6-percent higher than the 2015 adopted budget.

Ruane said the city's cost of $370,000 due to rolling back the millage rate is acceptable, since he went through a presentation to the City Council signifying over $900,000 worth of savings, if they were to be adopted.

"This will be giving relief to the taxpayers," Ruane included.

Ruane's savings he presented to the City Council included such things as repaying the City of Sanibel $400,000 from the Sanibel Causeway tolls, since the city paid its own transportation costs the last eight years. Last year, the City of Sanibel collected over $1.4 million off of tolls from the Causeway.

The Mayor also suggested a subsidy cap for the Rec Center for a savings of $100,000.

The ballfields were another area Ruane made savings of $84,000.

"Our partners (Lee County and Lee County Schools) need to step up, too," Ruane said. "The boards will be meeting Aug. 20, and if they don't step up, we can leave our share out of the budget."

Another savings of $115,000 could be had by eliminating the addition of body cameras and Tasers for the Sanibel Police Department.

Others savings included $100,000 from the Insurance Deductibles and another $100,000 from the Contingency Fund.

The Council also approved the dates to discuss and adopt the tentative millage rate and tentative fiscal year 2016 budget. They are both open to the public and will be Saturday, Sept. 12, at 9 a.m. and Tuesday, Sept. 22, at 5:01 p.m., which will be the second and final public hearing and the adoption of the final millage rate and final fiscal year 2016 budget.



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