August 12, 2017

Key West city officials will request $300,000 from the Bight district’s reserves in an effort to cut the approximately $750,000 needed to reach rollback rates for fiscal year 2017-2018, Port and Marina Services Director Doug Bradshaw indicated this week.

At the July budget hearings, city staff recommended a millage rate of $245 per $100,000 of property value, which comes in at 5 percent above rollback.

Rollback is the calculated millage rate necessary to generate the same amount of ad valorem tax dollars in the current year as the previous year, according to Finance Director Mark Finigan.

Several board members spoke against any raise in property taxes at the hearings, electing to instead set a tentative 3 percent increase with the idea of finding additional funding to achieve rollback.

The rollback rate for fiscal year 2017-18 would be $234 per $100,000 of value.

Although City Manager Jim Scholl said the Bight transfer would be up to members of the Key West City Commission, the Bight’s future financial planning model already accounts for the transfer.

Other options include a “very, very slight increase” in property taxes or the elimination of some of the city’s 92-day operating reserves, although city staff does not recommend that route, Scholl said.

A 1 percent increase in property taxes would generate approximately $155,000 in additional funds, while the use of an operating reserve day would generate $133,000, according to Finigan.

The exact amount needed in cuts isn’t known because figures discussed at the July budget workshops are estimates that become clearer as the Sept. 30 end of the current fiscal year approaches, Scholl said.

“All the numbers are preliminary estimates … and then as we get toward the end of the year the (numbers) get more refined and more accurate,” he said.

The successful Bight district previously transferred $1.3 million to assist the construction of City Hall, and this week agreed to send more than $2 million annually to the city’s capital projects fund beginning in fiscal year 2018-19, after the district makes its final payment in December on the bond used to purchase the property in 1993.

The city commission will hold a final budget workshop on Sept. 13 and approve the fiscal budget and set the millage rate at a Sept. 21 workshop.

sunger@keysnews.com