Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Back to Budgets Beginning this Wednesday [UPDATE]

This Wednesday, August 27 at 9:00 a.m., our City Council will begin addressing the issue of Belle Isle's 2014-2015 City Budget. The September budget hearings will decide our City's short term and long term plans for the coming years.

Readers may not be aware that the 2013-2014 Belle Isle City Budget adopted by our Council was unlawful under our City Charter and Florida state law. Under section 5.04 of the Belle Isle City Charter, "The total of proposed expenditures shall not exceed the total of estimated income." Similarly, Florida Statutes, section 166.241(2) requires that the amount available from taxation and other sources equal the total appropriations for expenditures and reserves. Put more simply by our Orange County Commissioner, Pete Clarke, "budgets by law must be balanced."

A quick review of the 2013-2014 adopted budget (linked below) reveals that it does not meet the requirements of Florida law or our City Charter. Expected revenues, shown on page three, total $5,778,710. Planned expenditures, shown on page five, total $6,340,509. These figures are prominently displayed and easy to understand, so our Commissioners clearly knew that they were voting on a budget that authorized the City to spend significantly more than it would take in during the year. Voting in favor of this unlawful budget at the September 20, 2013 meeting were Commissioners Van Dyke, Ady, Shuck and Pisano.

It is vital that residents attend the upcoming budget hearings to monitor the development and approval of the 2014-2015 City Budget. While no one wants to raise taxes in Belle Isle, it is clear from the waning condition of our City's roads and drainage that refurbishment of our City's aging infrastructure is going to be a huge cost in the near future. It will take extremely careful budgeting - including elimination of all unnecessary expenditures - to address these infrastructure issues without a tax hike.

The 2014-2015 City Budget will be discussed at the workshop meeting this Wednesday, August 27 at 9:00 a.m. (the new starting time for workshop meetings). The workshop agenda is linked below. The second budget meeting is scheduled for next Wednesday, September 3 at 6:00 p.m. (there is no meeting on Tuesday). The final budget hearing will take place on Monday, September 22 at 6:00 p.m.

The Belle Isle City Budget will affect most residents' everyday lives more than the laws coming out of Washington or Tallahassee. Don't miss this opportunity to help decide how your money will be spent or saved!

August 27, 2014 Workshop Meeting Agenda

2013-2014 Belle Isle City Budget (Adopted)

UPDATE 8/27/14

At the August 27, 2014 meeting, Mayor Brooks strongly asserted that the 2013-2014 budget does not violate the City Charter or state law, suggesting that there are other revenues from fund appropriations, not included in the 2013-14 budget figures cited above, which would make the revenue and expenses equal.

Reviewing the adopted City Budgets from 2011-12 and 2012-13 (linked below), it is easy to see that those past budgets complied with the Charter and Florida law by the fact that the total revenues matched total expenditures. This is required under the City Charter, section 5.04, which states that the budget "shall show in detail all estimated income" arranged in a way that the reader can compare with expenditures from the present and prior years. Here's a simple table comparing the pertinent figures in last three budgets:

Budget Year
Total Expected Revenue
(page numbers in budget)
Total Planned Expenditures
(page numbers in budget)
2011-2012 Approved Budget
(pages 3 and following)
(page preceding 1)
2012-2013 Approved Budget
(pages 2-1 & 2-2)
(pages 2-3 & 2-4)
2013-2014 Approved Budget
(pages 3 & 4)
(pages 5 & 6)
- $561,799

This pattern of matching revenues to expenditures was broken in the 2013-14 budget, when the expected revenues were short of planned expenditures by $561,799. Furthermore, all revenues from any source should already be included in the 2013-14 revenue figure, which is labeled as the "Total Revenues" for "All Funds" in the 2013-14 adopted budget (pages 3-4). There is nothing in the 2013-14 budget noting a change in reporting methods from prior years which would explain this discrepancy.

If City Hall provides any further information explaining this discrepancy, this article will updated accordingly.

2011-2012 Belle Isle City Budget (Adopted) 

2012-2013 Belle Isle City Budget (Adopted)

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