Council gives 1st approval to $82M budget
The Town Council gave an initial nod Thursday to an $82.4 million spending plan for the year that begins Oct. 1.
Final approval is scheduled to come at a second public hearing next week.
The proposed budget would be nearly 2.5 percent larger than this year’s $80.5 million budget. It calls for a leaner workforce and for reductions in discretionary spending. Much of the increase will go toward stepping up payments into the town’s retirement fund in an effort to drive down long-term pension costs.
At Thursday’s public hearing, the council unanimously voted for the budget and for a 5.3 percent increase in property taxes. The second public hearing is set for 5:01 p.m. Sept. 20 in Town Hall.
The new tax rate is $3.13 per $1,000 of taxable value, about 2 percent lower than the current $3.20 per $1,000. But taxes will climb because of a 7.75 percent average increase in property values forecast by Palm Beach County Property Appraiser Dorothy Jacks.
Also Thursday, the town issued $60 million in bonds to finance a large portion of the cost of burying all overhead power, phone and cable television lines on the island. The town “locked in” a 3.64 percent interest rate on the bonds, lower than the 3.81 percent rate it had expected. The lower rate will save about $100,000 in debt cost over the 30-year payback period, Finance Director Jane Le Clainche said.
S&P and Moody’s have assigned AAA and Aaa ratings, respectively, to the bonds — the highest rating classification given by each agency. S&P cited the town’s strong economy and financial management and low overall debt among the reasons for the rating.
Mayor Gail Coniglio cited the bond rating as proof of the town’s solid financial reputation and standing.