Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Green Cove Springs; City Council Tentatively Approves $30 Million Budget

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Green Cove Springs; City Council Tentatively Approves $30 Million Budget

Article excerpt

Byline: R. MICHAEL ANDERSON

The Green Cove Springs City Council last week approved a tentative budget of $30 million for 2007-08, which is nearly $3 million less than last year, but left open the possibility of increasing the spending plan by more than $10 million in loans for utility improvements.

In presenting his budget proposal, which he said was based on a "pay as you go philosophy," City Manager Don Bowles said the city was only two years away from being debt-free and he urged council members to stay the course.

A final decision on the budget and City Councilman Mike Kelter's proposal to borrow $10.6 million for "critical infrastructure needs for the water, wastewater and electric utilities" is expected to come during a final public hearing at 6 p.m. Monday.

The budget proposal includes $8.6 million for the city's general operating fund and continues the current property tax rate of 2.6 mills, or $2.60 for every $1,000 of assessed valuation.

The owner of a $150,000 home would pay $325 in city property taxes after deducting the standard $25,000 homestead exemption. The new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

In his budget message, Bowles said 2.6 mills is the maximum rate allowable under the state's new tax reform legislation. Setting a higher property tax rate, without approval from Tallahassee, could result in the loss of state revenue, including $370,000 in sales tax money, according to Finance Director Sue Heath.

Most of the $2.9 million reduction in the new budget, Bowles said, was due to the completion of a $2.8 million grant the city received last year for the Green Cove Springs Nature Preserve.

"The city has been very successful in receiving state and federal grants for much needed capital projects," he said. "Grants account for $2,487,000 of the $30,027,701 total proposed budget, or 8. …

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