Coun­cil gives 1st ap­proval to $82M bud­get

Palm Beach Daily News - - TODAY - By WIL­LIAM KELLY

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.

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