INDIAN RIVER SHORES ― The Indian River Shores Town Council has unanimously approved the fiscal year 2021 budget proposed by Town Manager Joseph Griffin and Town Treasurer Heather Christmas.

The next step for the budget is a public hearing on Sept. 10.

The town manager and town treasurer recommended a millage rate of 1.4146. This was higher than the rate recommended by the finance committee, which on June 20 voted to use the same 1.3349 millage rate as FY 2020.

According to Mr. Griffin and Ms. Christmas, the lower rate recommended by the finance committee would have required using $670,000 from reserves to cover deficits. The higher rate would require using only $400,000 from reserves.

According to the town manager and treasurer, a millage rate of 1.5352 would be required to fund all budget items from current revenues, without dipping into reserves.

If the town decides after public hearings to stay with the higher rate, the impact on residents will be small. Using property taxed on a value of $750,000 last year, assuming it increased 3.10%, the 1.4146 millage will result in an increase of $92 in millage taxes from the prior year, with that portion of the tax bill rising from $1,001 to 1,093.

Unlike other local governments, the budget planners do not expect a massive tax revenue hit due to COVID-19.

“Due to the recent economic hit, we anticipate revenues decreasing by $200,000 from the prior year original budget,” Mr. Griffin and Ms. Christmas wrote in their budget message. “$150,000 of that loss is in interest revenue with the remaining coming from tax revenues.”

According to the budget message submitted by the town manager and treasurer, total appropriations in the FY 2021 budget are $7,147,167, compared to the $7,777,810 that was approved before amendments last year.

The drop is due to decreases in the expected expenditures in the renovation of the town hall campus. Those renovations will continue, with total costs budgeted at $650,000, of which $400,000 will come from general department reserves and $200,000 will come from building department reserves.

The other significant capital improvement for 2021 will be to mill and resurface Surf Lane, which will cost $122,000.

Other improvements in the budget include $48,000 for upgrading of the town’s IT environment; $30,000 for exterior painting of the public safety building; $25,000 for new dispatch software required by the county; and $20,000 for expansion of the public safety evidence room.

The budget includes a net increase for the public safety personnel budget of $140,000, or 4% higher than the previous fiscal year. No new full time positions were created, but officers are due pay increases as determined by the union contract. A 4% average merit raise was included for each non-union fulltime employee.

For information about the Sept. 10 public hearing or to see that agenda once published, visit www.irshores.com/government/town-meetings/.

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