As its four-week summer hiatus comes to a close, Cape Coral City Council will take up its annual top priority of finalizing the city's budget for Fiscal Year 2015 which takes effect Oct. 1.
"There are three top priorities coming up," said Councilmember John Carioscia. "Budget, budget and budget. There is nothing more important right now."
Carioscia also said he anticipates discussions on the fire assessment case that is before the Florida Supreme Court and the ongoing city union contracts.
Council's regular weekly meetings resume on Monday.
"I hope we get those wrapped up sooner than later," Carioscia said.
The city's general fund budget being proposed by City Manager John Szerlag is expected to come in just over $146 million. At a meeting in June, council came through with a preliminary 0.7500 millage rate reduction for 2015, which four of the current council members promised to deliver when the Public Service Tax was approved for this budget year. That, or any, millage reduction needs final approval by council in upcoming public budget hearings. Coupled with a rate reduction of .25 mills in 2014, the city's rate will have dropped one full mill over the last two years to 6.9570. If approved as proposed, the Public Service Tax will remain at 7 percent for 2015.
One mill is equal to $1 for every $1,000 of assessed property valuation.
Council will set the tentative millage rate, which can be reduced further, at the July 28 meeting. The final budget and tax rate will be approved at a later public hearing.
"The budget probably is our top priority over the next few months," said Councilmember Jim Burch. "Personally, I haven't put anything on the agenda list and I don't know of anything else that will be coming up except some of the League of Cities issues that I've been working on over the hiatus."
The Budget Review committee, which met on Monday, also heard about the Parks & Recreation Department's request to replace aging equipment. Many of its mowers, trucks and utility vehicles are more than 10 years old and becoming too expensive to keep repairing.
Other requests include improvements at Sun Splash Family Waterpark and repaving some roads and parking areas, particularly at the Yacht Club.
Council will discuss annual resolutions establishing the assessment fees for solid waste and vacant lot mowing, and renewal fees for contractors. Monday's meeting starts at 4:30 p.m.
The city manager's budget proposal, which was released Thursday, may be found on-line at capecoral.net .