If you go
Marco Island City Council’s meeting is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. Monday in the Community Room, 51 Bald Eagle Drive. There is a 3 p.m. budget workshop before the meeting.
MARCO ISLAND — Settling on a final tax rate appears to be a taxing proposition for the Marco Island City Council, as several options remain on the table for Monday’s final budget hearing.
Despite some difficulty in agreeing on the best approach, council members already have looked to eliminate a proposed 6 percent utility rate increase and are considering eliminating a long-standing 6 percent utility surcharge. The surcharge was created to pay for street repaving when the city took on the Septic Tank Replacement Program, designed to convert the island from septic tanks to a sewer system in phases.
However, eliminating the utility surcharge could come with an increased tax rate.
Council members initially set the tax rate at about $2.07 per $1,000 of taxable property value. However, council members expressed their intent earlier this month to lower that fiscal 2011-12 tax rate to $1.89 per $1,000 of property value. That’s one of at least two proposals to be considered at a meeting scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday.
“If we can get to 1.89 (mills) then we did a great job,” Councilman Larry Magel said. “I think it will be a great result for everybody.”
The rate of $1.89 per $1,000 of property value would be the same rate that property owners were taxed this year. Holding the line is something Collier County and Naples officials have expressed a firm commitment to do in their budget discussions.
A tax rate of $1.99 per $1,000 of taxable property value also is among the options for Marco council members, along with a switch away from charging the city-operated utility customers a 6 percent surcharge on their water and sewer bills. Money from that surcharge, if it’s collected, would be set aside to pay for road resurfacing.
By the numbers
The rate of $1.89 per $1,000 of property value would be the same rate that property owners were taxed this year.
If road resurfacing were to be paid for using property taxes, it would increase the existing rate to about $1.96 per $1,000 of property value.
A tax rate of $1.99 per $1,000 of taxable property value also is among the options for Marco council members, along with a switch away from charging the city-operated utility customers a 6 percent surcharge on their water and sewer bills.
“The 6 percent surcharge in the water and sewer fund may be reduced, however, it cannot be eliminated entirely,” Finance Director Patricia Bliss wrote in a memo to council on the issue.
The utility surcharge could be reduced to as low as 2 percent rather than eliminated, according to the preliminary figures that Magel said he received.
“So we would split the baby,” Magel said.
He said he’s eager to see the financial data that is to be presented during the budget workshop, scheduled for 3 p.m. Monday. The council’s final budget hearing is to follow at 5:30 p.m. Monday.
During budget subcommittee meetings this summer, Councilman Wayne Waldack initially broached the idea of eliminating the surcharge.
Waldack saw it as a way for everyone to share the cost, because there are more property taxpayers than there are utility customers.
However, money that comes into the utility budget cannot be mixed with the city’s general operation fund budget. So there is an argument to be made that all or some of the resurfacing charge needs to be on the property tax bill, Waldack said.
That’s why 2 percent may need to stay, he said.
One benefit of paying through property taxes instead of a surcharge is that it becomes tax deductible for many residents, Magel said.
The $1.89 rate supports a $20.5 million budget using $722,745 in reserves.
If road resurfacing were to be paid for using property taxes, it would increase the existing rate to about $1.96 per $1,000 of property value, Bliss wrote in a memo to council.
If council members choose the option of $1.99 per $1,000 of property value, then add in road resurfacing, the total tax rate would be about $2.06 per $1,000 of taxable property value and there would be no need to use reserves, Bliss reported.
The city’s total budget is about $105 million, including the utility department’s budget, which is supported by water and sewer rates rather than property taxes.