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Palm Coast Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022 1 month ago

Danko wants spending cuts, not tax increases, asking staff to ‘amaze us’

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The full budget will be presented Aug. 30 to City Council.
by: Brian McMillan Contributing Writer

After a series of budget forecasts by Palm Coast city staff directors, almost all saying that more money was required to maintain or improve the level of service for residents, City Council member Ed Danko made his stance known in the closing comments of the Aug. 9 workshop: He will not support any tax increases.

“A lot of our residents are being financially hurt right now,” Danko said, “rising gas prices, food prices and everything. Our city government is feeling that same pain.

“However,” he continued, “as we move through this budget process, in my judgment, it's a special kind of stupid to vote for a tax increase during a recession and inflation. And I want our city staff and our council to think about our must haves: police, fire, first responders, roads, water — the things we absolutely need. And I want us to put aside the stuff that we really don't need. I'll be calling for a full millage rate rollback."

He concluded: “I ask our staff to find ways to amaze us, to do more with less. Because if there was ever a time that we needed to tighten our belts, the time is now.”

Aug. 30 is the date of the full budget presentation to City Council, in advance of final decisions on the city’s tax rate.

These are among the items presented by city directors earlier in the Aug. 9 workshop. The items are from a variety of funds, some of which include grants and federal dollars, meaning they do not put any tax burden on the residents. Others come from the city’s ad valorem budget, meaning they do come from property taxes.

 

By the numbers

$14.3 million

Planned investment in a new Maintenance Operations Complex in 2023.

 

$945,000

Planned investment in information technology upgrades for city operations in 2023.

 

$25,000

Planned investment each year from 2023 to 2027 to bring city facilities to compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

 

$1.23 million

Projected shortfall in 2023 in the fund used to repave roads in Palm Coast. That’s just the beginning: More than $5 million shortfalls are expected each year from 2024 to 2027.

 

$665,000

Projected funds to fix sagging traffic signals in 2023. There are 52 signals maintained by the city. When turn lanes are added due to growth, impact fees help fund traffic signal improvements as well. About $200,000 per year is planned for maintenance of signals.

 

$7.3 million

Planned budget for street rehabilitation in 2023. That’s up from $3.2 million in 2022.

 

$445,000

Beautification project budget for 2022, funded by grants. The main improvement is at the intersection of State Road 100 and Interstate 95.

 

$100,000

Planned budget for bridge rehabilitation each year, starting in 2023.

 

$1.6 million

Funds to be spent to finish the Old Kings Road widening in 2022.

 

$936,182

Planned funding for Belle Terre safety improvements in 2023.

 

$5.05 million

Budget for the Citation Boulevard improvements/extension in 2023. That’s on top of $300,000 in 2022, as well as $805,000 this year in Citation improvements.

 

$6.4 million

Planned funding for Whiteview Parkway safety improvements, helped by state grants, to be spent in 2023-2024.

 

$2.52 million

Planned budget, assisted by grants, for the Lehigh Trail Head, to be spent in 2023. Construction should begin in the fall of 2022.

 

$1.05 million

Planned budget for an extended boardwalk, thanks to a Department of Environmental Protection grant, at Long Creek Nature Preserve.

 

$2.65 million

Impact fee funding to build neighborhood parks in Matanzas, Quail Hollow and Seminole Woods, between 2023 and 2026.

 

$225,000

Budget for increased parking at Indian Trails Sports Complex, to be spent in 2025.

 

$10.6 million

Planned expenditures for a Southern Recreation Facility, to be spent in 2023.

 

$4 million

Federal government’s American Rescue Plan Act funding that will pay for $4 million for stormwater expansion at the London waterway in Palm Coast.

 

1

New fleet division manager requested in the city’s budget for Public Works.

 

26%

Increase in Public Works’ fleet management fund.

 

27

New vehicle requests at the Public Works Department.

 

1

Solid waste supervisor requested to be added to city Public Works staff to oversee the solid waste contract. The position would begin June 1, 2023, and would work in the field to verify complaints about the solid waste collection and make sure the contract is being upheld.

 

17%

Increase proposed in Information Technology Internal Services Fund, to $5.85 million, due in part to two new administrator positions.

 

6.9%

Increase proposed to the city’s Health Insurance Fund, bringing the total to $6.66 million.

 

Also at the city meeting ...

 

Flexible, safe investments

PFM Asset Management has recommended the city revise its investment policy, allowing for more flexibility, to make the city’s investments as safe as possible.

The changes would increase the maximum allocation of funds from 25% to 50% for both Florida Prime funds and Intragovernmental Investment Pools. The maturity limitations will also increase from 5 to 5.5 years for supranational securities, corporate notes, and state/local government debt securities. PFM’s representative noted that the city’s financial situation is much stronger than it was in years past, and these changes give the city’s finance director more flexibility in handling the city’s investments. 

Mayor David Alfin said the city has been criticized for providing a small return on its investments. But he defended the city’s strategy, which he described as being “fiscally conservative with every penny” and never getting into risky investments.

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