By Michael Salerno
For Hometown News
SOUTH DAYTONA - For the third year in a row, city leaders decided to keep the same property tax rate.
The City Council recently voted in favor of keeping the millage rate at $5.90 per $1,000 of assessed value, a decrease from the rolled-back rate of $6.15. The rolled-back rate is the tax rate that would generate the same revenue in taxes as the previous fiscal year.
City Manager Joseph Yarbrough said this is the sixth consecutive year the city adopted the rolled-back rate or lower. He added that over the last six years, the city's average residential property values have dropped 50 percent.
"We're hoping that this will turn around and that we've bottomed out," Mr. Yarbrough said.
The budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year is $37.5 million, down from last year's $49.3 million.
A budget memo from Finance Director Christopher Campbell stated the general fund declined by $51,812, or about a half-percent, due to three major adjustments.
First, the city manager's executive assistant position was reclassified to an executive assistant/public information officer position, with an estimated payroll cost of $67,484, including benefits. Much of the payroll cost was offset by a $63,336 reduction in contractual services, Mr. Campbell said.
The recent announcement of Police Chief Bill Hall's retirement also helped reduce the general fund. Because the chief only has four months left on the job before he retires in January, the city only budgeted four months of his salary and benefits, which adds up to $51,737. Chief Hall's annual salary, including benefits, is $153,288.
Finally, the city is expected to lose revenue as Volusia County plans to end a contract to provide fire and rescue services to an unincorporated enclave west of Nova Road. The county pays South Daytona about $69,000 a year to support those services, but the city is expected to stop receiving those payments in February.
"That dialogue is continuing," Mr. Yarbrough said. "We're keeping our fingers crossed."
The only other major budget change was an increase in the transportation fund that came as the city received $573,472 in grant funding from the Florida Department of Transportation that will support the construction of a 10-foot-wide sidewalk along Ridge Boulevard from Pope Avenue to South Palmetto Avenue.
"There is no required city match for this grant," Mr. Campbell said.
A second public hearing on the budget and tax rate is scheduled for Sept. 25. The budget and property tax rate will go into effect when the 2012-13 fiscal year begins Oct. 1.