Tax increase, city management challenge discussed at financial planning meeting

Tom Kirstein of the financial planning committee says Monday in a committee meeting that he would like to make it clear to taxpayers that estimated costs for Veterans' Community Park and the Mackle Park Community Center, which total up to $27 million, would go to referendum and are not under review by the committee which is looking solely at general fund expenses.
Kelly Farrell/ Staff

Photo by KELLY FARRELL

Tom Kirstein of the financial planning committee says Monday in a committee meeting that he would like to make it clear to taxpayers that estimated costs for Veterans' Community Park and the Mackle Park Community Center, which total up to $27 million, would go to referendum and are not under review by the committee which is looking solely at general fund expenses. Kelly Farrell/ Staff

— Getting a clear picture of what Marco would look like with a 20 percent cut from its budget hasn’t been easy, financial planning committee members said Monday morning.

Committee member Jim Riviere offered a new idea to cut spending. He calls it the “management challenge” of city department directors finding everyplace possible to cut.

“Set a desired cut of 5 percent or 10 percent to begin with. It doesn’t matter how you get there,” Riviere said.

He related it to the military. “If a base commander was afraid their base would be close down they’d get so frugal, the base commander wouldn’t give you a new roll of toilet paper until you came up with the core,” Riviere said.

He added that it would be a change of mind set and that habits could be changed to reduce waste.

City Clerk Laura Litzan said staffers are working on doing the scrounging, scraping and stretching of supplies that Riviere described.

Several department directors are going to Cape Coral she said to learn about the lean government initiative.

Committee member Larry Magel said he feared the committee was only scratching the surface and not coming up with the 20 percent cuts they set out to find.

“If you wanted to get there it could be done, it’s just not pretty. What’s wrong with increasing the millage rate a little bit,” said committee member Steve Stefanides.

Marco Island Taxpayers’ Association treasurer Amadeo Petricca, who was in attendance, agreed with Stefanides.

“People get nervous about the millage rate going up ... The change from 1.3 mils (or $1.30 per $1,000 of taxable property value) to 1.7 mils is not a significant number in absolute dollars,” Petricca said.

Bill Harrison, former finance director and current city financial advisor, said the challenge in selling a 20 percent tax rate increase is that homesteaders, the voters, would see a significant increase in the dollar amount on the tax bill because the county will be looking at tax rate increases and are a larger portion of the bill than the city. Homesteaders will not see the savings from a loss in taxable property values that non-homesteaders will see, he said.

MITA President Fay Biles said about 25 percent of the homes on Island are homesteaded.

The Ad Hoc Financial Planning Committee is scheduled to meet again to develop a menu of recommendations to Council 9 a.m., April 6 in the first floor conference room of City Hall, 50 Bald Eagle Drive.

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Comments » 1

HMW writes:

Steve & Amadeo, are you serious!! At a time when there are so many homes on the market on MI, raising the mils would surely exacerbate the problem! "Not a significant number in absolute dollars" where did you learn to do math. The median home price is 400,000 x 1.7=6800 compared to 5200.00...that's 1600.00 more a yr. May not seem like alot to you, but for the average family already on a tight budget, that's alot. I myself am looking to purchase a home on MI. With home prices dropping and a millage rate of 1.3, our dream of buying a home on MI is finally within our reach. Now with the possibility of a mil increase, there's a good chance we will look elsewhere to buy and we will not be the only ones discouraged by such a high mil rate.

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