The vote by the Edgewater City Council was 3-2 to pass the final millage rate and budget for the 2020 fiscal year.
Council members Megan O’Keefe and Gary Conroy voted no.
The proposed millage rate was 6.7.
Mr. Conroy said he wanted to see it closer to 6.55 mills. He suggested holding open two of the full-time and one of the part-time parks positions that were being created. He said that would save $105,947. He also recommended giving assistant directors and department heads a 2% salary increase rather than the proposed 4%. With those two changes, Mr. Conroy said the new millage rate would be 6.55.
City Manager Glenn Irby argued against a smaller increase for the directors and deputy directors, saying it would set compression into the making, where supervisors and lower-level employees could potentially make close to or more than the people they report to.
Councilwoman Kimberly Yaney suggested some possible additional revenue sources to help achieve the same end in reducing the millage rate. She asked about creating franchise fees for commercial waste companies who do business in Edgewater. Staff said they would look into that and make a recommendation, but it would have to be a mid-year budget amendment because it would take time to get the fees in place.
Ms. Yaney also pointed out certain line items, such as health insurance premiums for city council members and per diem expenses for council members, she felt could be eliminated.
To keep the proposed millage at 6.7, the City Council had to dip into the city hall fund, a fund created to save money for a future city hall. The budget includes $258,616 from the fund to be used for the reduction of the millage rate, meaning the 6.7 would be higher if they didn’t agree to take money from that fund.
Also, $210,000 was taken from the city hall fund for the engineering and design of a new public works complex.
The City Council set a policy many years ago to contribute $100,000 a year to the city hall fund. There is about $800,000 in the fund. With the proposed budget, that fund will drop to $330,000. And no funds from this year’s budget will go into the city hall fund. Instead, the money that would normally have been designated for that purpose will be used for paving and sidewalk projects.
Staff recommended against using the fund to reduce the millage rate because it also reduced the money the city has in cash reserves. Edgewater already falls below the minimum 17% local governments are encouraged to have in reserves. Using the city hall funds will drop reserves below 14%.
The new budget took effect Oct. 1.