By Noelle H. Lowery
Marco Island City Manager Roger Hernstadt’s pay-as-you-go budget earned a green light when city councilors voted 6-1 to approve it during the Monday, Sept. 22 regular meeting. Councilor Amadeo Petricca held fast to his objections to the budget plan, voting against it.
For FY2015, the approved budget totals $22 million based on a 2.507 overall millage rate. This is a 7.85 percent millage rate increase over the city’s aggregate ad valorem taxes based on the city’s rollback rate and a conservatively projected increase in Marco Island property values. It combines a millage of 2.0466 for general operations and .1041 for debt service. Essentially, this amounts to an extra $60 in annual property taxes for a home valued at $500,000 every year – just an extra $5 per month and still keeps the total annual municipal tax bill under $1,000 per year or $85 per month.
Hernstadt’s overall five-year plan promises to streamline Marco Island’s general fund finances and get the city out of debt while also planning which projects it will tackle, when it will tackle them and then saving for them. The city’s debt includes $150 million in water and sewer debt, $18 million in debt on the city’s general operations side — which includes $1.3 million in interest on the bank loan for the Smokehouse Bay Bridge project — and the $5.5 million in unfunded pension liabilities. The city also has a list of 116 items totaling $31.9 million in major capital improvement, infrastructure projects and equipment replacements the city is facing over the next five years.