“To enhance Punta Gorda’s identity as a vibrant waterfront community,
unique in character and history, and one of the most desirable places to live, work and visit.”
This is my thirteenth opportunity as City Manager to present you an annual financial plan. As the Southwest Florida region recovers from economic adversity, we continue to make great strides, and I appreciate the opportunity to serve you and this wonderful community. This budget message provides a narrative explanation that summarizes the philosophy driving our recommendations. As you review these recommendations, I encourage each of you to keep several important facts at the forefront of your thoughts. These facts will aid you in your efforts to evaluate our proposed service delivery plan and reach sound decisions to guide the City’s future:
- The Charlotte County Property Appraiser reported that taxable property values increased Citywide by 7.4%, which is the fifth straight year of increasing property values, reversing a previous trend of six straight decreases in overall value.
- The Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) experienced a 9.7% increase from previous year property values, the third straight year of value increases.
- Increased value from new construction, annexations and other adjustments in the City is $50.6 million, up from $38.4 million the previous year.
- The proposed FY 2018 General Fund Budget, net of ending reserve, totals $21 million, which is $1.8 million or 9.4% more than the original FY 2017 budget. The cumulative increase in the general fund since FY 2008 is 2.4%.
- Incorporated in the overall budget is a proposed 3% merit increase for employees.
- The State released its final state-shared revenue estimates in July, based on 100% of projected collections. Due to past experience in which the State revised projections at various times during a fiscal year, the budget reflects approximately 92% of State estimates to cushion any further swings in the economy.
- To assist you in measuring our performance, City Council approves an annual Strategic Plan. Action items to be undertaken during FY 2018 as part of the five strategic priority areas identified in the Plan are incorporated into the annual budget and the City’s five-year capital improvements program.
- The Long Range Financial Plan has been updated for the City’s major fund groups. The Plan highlights revenue and expenditure trends over a five-year timeframe and recommends strategies to minimize projected budgetary gaps, tax and/or fee increases. Information gleaned from the Plan was used to formulate guidelines for FY 2018 budget preparation.
- Also included in the Long Range Plan was an assessment of the City’s financial management policies and recommended revisions that would lead toward future compliance with nationally recognized standards. Council recognized the desire to implement these changes during FY 2017, and they are carried forward into the FY 2018 budget development.
- The change in Consumer Price Index (CPI) as reflected in the State “Save Our Homes” Legislation is 2.1%. This means that no matter how high the market value of a homestead property increases, the assessed value can only rise 2.1%.
The gradual economic turnaround undoubtedly challenges our community’s ability to forecast, plan for, and provide services that meet public needs. Along with those challenges comes the additional necessity of prudent and sensible funding for needed services. This proposed budget carefully balances available resources to continue moving the community along the path to an excellent quality of life at a reasonable level of cost.