Monday, September 2, 2013

Belle Isle Financial Trends - Part I

by Sue Nielsen

With budget hearings beginning at the Council meeting scheduled for this Tuesday, September 3, this is probably a good time to publish some information about how Belle Isle has received, spent, reserved, and borrowed money over the last decade. The below figures date back to the year 2000, just before the start of Mayor Brooks'  tenure in Belle Isle.

This table provides an overview of our City's recent financial history and it is a good place to start if you are curious about our City's financial condition. This information was obtained from Belle Isle's Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFRs) from 2009 and 2011. The 2012 CAFR can't be compared to the below figures, for reasons to be discussed in part 2 of this article.
Year              Total                Total                       Total               Unrestricted 
                      Revenue          Expenditures         Debt                Reserve

2000              2,400,261          2,421,456                   -0-                 3,131,762
2001              2,537,509          2,481,850                   -0-                 3,137,421
2002              2,428,016          2,590,415                 107,616           3,084,293
2003              2,556,887          3,185,486              1,042,958           2,785,501
2004              2,925,472          6,589,318              1,927,217           1,741,059
2005              6,528,001          4,076,926              1,786,256           1,713,140
2006              5,122,393          4,533,751              1,576,425           2,097,127
2007              5,731,990          7,805,724              2,841,771           3,287,910
2008              4,366,959          5,005,441              2,586,587           1,979,832
2009              3,981,663          5,615,854              2,472,220              911,654
2010              4,408,210          4,711,729              2,208,896              770,409
2011              4,890,835          4,926,956              1,893,769              807,189

Here are some brief observations about the above figures:
  • Since 2002, Belle Isle has regularly spent significantly more than its yearly revenue, as evidenced by the revenue and expenditures described in the above table.
  • The 2004-07 revenues were greatly supplemented by FEMA grants to deal with hurricane destruction. These grants do not have to be repaid, but should have replaced some of our City's money that was spent on hurricane-related projects.
  • Belle Isle had no debt before the election of Mayor Brooks. Since that time, our City's has been required to pay interest and principal on its loans as a regular budget item, further reducing the available revenue every year to meet our City's basic needs. The above debt also does not include the City's charter school bond (to be discussed in part 2 of this article).
  • Unrestricted reserves are the funds not designated for any particular purpose, but are instead available to meet emergency needs that may unexpectedly arise in our City. They are an important indicator of our City's financial security. This reserve was over $3 million before the election of Mayor Brooks, but were well under $1 million by the end of 2009. In order to rebuild our City's reserves to their prior level, our City would have to significantly temper its present spending and borrowing habits.

If any of these observations concern you, please be sure to attend our City's upcoming budget hearings which will take place on Tuesday, September 3 at 5:30 p.m. and on Friday, September 20 at 5:30 p.m. The budget hearings will be held at City Hall located at 1600 Nela Avenue.


  1. Appalling, but not surprising given recent disclosures by the Belle Isle Sun and uprising of the citizens of Belle Isle. We NEED to vote this mayor out of office!

  2. I'll second that. Brooks needs to go. I don't trust a single thing he says or does. He is an embarrassment to our city and is putting us in debt.

  3. I'm still trying to figure out why we are paying dental insurance for our commissioners???? Did I read that line item incorrectly?

    1. You did and we are. I do not know why.

      Sue Nielsen


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