District Continues Budget-Trimming Trend

Budget graphs

At the final budget hearing on Sept. 28, the Governing Board adopted a total fiscal year (FY) 2011 budget of $279.8 million and a millage rate of 0.3770 mill for the Districtwide General Fund.

The approved budget is $19.1 million, or 6.4 percent, lower than the FY2010 budget, continuing a downward trend that began with FY2009. The $19.1 million decrease in the budget from FY2010 brings the District budget down to levels last seen in FY2005, when the budget was $279.3 million.

Ron Oakley, Governing Board chair, said that the reductions were necessary.

“These are tough times for the region, and for most of Florida,” said Oakley. “Local governments all across the state have had to tighten their belts, and the District has had to do the same.”

The reduced millage rate of 0.3770, combined with a 10.77 percent decrease in taxable property values, results in a $15.5 million reduction in ad valorem tax revenue for the Districtwide General Fund from FY2010. The last time the Governing Board lowered the District’s millage rate was FY2008, when the Board reduced the millage rate by 0.0354 from 0.422. Before the FY2008 reduction, the millage rate held steady at 0.422 from FY1994 through FY2007.

With property values decreasing across the region, ad valorem revenues fell for all of the District’s Basin Boards by $11.6 million, or 16.9 percent, from FY2010. All Basin Boards saw budget decreases except for the Hillsborough River Basin Board, which saw an increase of $21.3 million, primarily due to additional balances available from the prior year as a result of the City of Tampa canceling three major cooperative funding projects due to economic conditions.

Two Basin Boards reduced their millage rates for FY2011. The Hillsborough River Basin Board reduced its FY2011 millage rate to 0.2300 mill, 0.0121 mill lower than the FY2010 rate. The Pinellas-Anclote River Basin Board reduced its millage rate to 0.2600 mill, 0.0600 mill less than FY2010. This is the fourth consecutive year the Pinellas-Anclote River Basin Board has lowered its millage rate.

Todd Pressman, Pinellas-Anclote River Basin Board co-chair, said that the Board had taxpayers in mind as they worked through the budget process.

“I think it’s important that we are responsive to the taxpayers,” said Pressman. “A significant reduction is absolutely necessary in these times.”

District staff worked long hours preparing Governing Board and Basin Board members for the tough decisions required in this year’s budget development process.

“The Board had to make some tough decisions this year, and they needed in-depth information from the staff to be sure they were making informed decisions,” said Doug Tharp, Governing Board treasurer. “The staff did an outstanding job helping the Board see the options they had and giving them the information they needed to make their decisions.”

The FY2011 budget runs from Oct. 1, 2010, through Sept. 30, 2011.