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NAPLES — The city of Naples is tightening its belt.
And Naples taxpayers could lose some services or pay for others, including a proposed charge to use the Naples City Pier.
Naples City Council on Monday is set to discuss strategies for balancing the fiscal 2011 budget, which runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30.
Though charging to use the Naples Pier is included in a presentation about ways to balance the budget released Thursday, it is not popular among city leaders.
Mayor Bill Barnett said Thursday he would not support a charge to access the Naples landmark.
“I don’t think the best convincer in the world could convince me to do that,” he said.
The city has historically not charged to access the pier. But a 1960 recommendation to council said that while “there should (be) no admission charge for fishing or spectators” at the time of the report, the question “should be reviewed periodically.”
“It’s not something we were recommending,” Assistant City Manager Roger Reinke said of an admission fee. “It’s an idea out there, and in many areas people charge for those attractions.”
Naples City Council has avoided cutting services in previous budget cycles.
“You always try to put the blinders on and not look there, and I’m still optimistic we won’t have to,” Barnett said about cutting services. “But we have to find out how short we are, and what funds are available from where.”
The proposal – released Thursday as part of the May 17 workshop agenda – includes closing community centers on holidays, and eliminating summer camp and event sponsorships.
The proposal also recommends city officials cut six vacant positions in the police department and boost revenues by depositing the telecommunications tax to the general fund, instead of the capital funds.
Those suggestions, combined with a number of other cost savings actions, could save the city $1.78 million in fiscal 2011, according to a presentation by Ann Marie Ricardi, the city’s finance director.
Ricardi said Thursday the city is in a difficult position when it comes to projecting its fiscal 2011 shortfall.
If City Council opts to adjust the fiscal 2011 tax rate to rollback rate – a rate which generates the same amount of revenue as the previous year – the city would be faced with a $200,000 shortfall.
But if City Council decides to keep the tax rate the same next year as it is this year, the city could be faced with anywhere from a $1.084 million to a $1.959 million shortfall in fiscal 2011.
The city has a tax rate of $1.18 on every $1,000 of taxable property value this year, and a budget of $98 million, $35 million of which is in the general fund, the city’s main operating fund.
City Council members said last year they did not want to exceed the existing tax rate by 10 percent, and Ricardi said the strategy report was made knowing “there were those thoughts out there.”
City Councilman Gary Price said Thursday he is not in favor of increasing the millage rate in order to balance the budget.
“It looks like there’s still plenty of reductions and there’s some revenue opportunities out there,” Price said.
In addition to charging for the pier, Ricardi’s presentation about increasing revenues includes charging pay to park at the garages during special events, once a week garbage pickup and eliminating the online and television broadcasts.
Those options aren’t on the table right now but Ricardi said the staff wanted to make sure council knew there were other options out there.
“None of these are things we’re ready to go live with,” Ricardi said.
Connect with Naples reporter Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster at www.naplesnews.com/staff/jenna-buzzacco