Florida Keys News - Islamorada/KL Free Press
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
District looks to increase budget, payroll

KEY LARGO -- The proposed operating budget released last Friday by the Key Largo Wastewater Treatment District for the 2014-15 fiscal year is $24.2 million, or about $1.5 million higher than the current year's budget.

The district does not have the power to raise revenue through property taxes but sets assessments and independently manages those funds.

The new budget brings salary increases in all four of the district's departments. According to budget documents, administration payroll would increase from roughly $704,000 to $844,000. Plant payroll is proposing an increase from $287,000 to $338,000. Collections payroll is seeking an increase from $677,000 to $776,000 and the construction department is requesting an increase from $129,000 to $246,000.

Documents provided by Chief Information Officer Paul Christian show the district currently has 30 full-time employees with a total salary of $1,548,720. This results in an average full-time salary of $51,624 for district employees.

In addition to the raw payroll, the district was expected this year to pay $493,000 in employee-related taxes and benefits. These payouts include retirement contributions, health and life insurance, employee benefit administration fees, life insurance, workers compensation insurance as well as unemployment compensation. If the preliminary budget is approved, those costs would increase to $708,000 for the 2014-15 fiscal year.

Christian's numbers also show three part-time employees, which are the district's attorney, clerk and an administrative assistant, totaling $198,160 in annual payouts.

Not included in those totals are the monies the district pays for outside legal, engineering and accounting services as well as pay for board members.

During the current year, the district budgeted $279,000 for professional services among its collection, administrative, plant and construction departments. The total also included $11,800 for outside legal help and $73,000 for its outside accounting through Bishop Rosasco. Those same costs for next year's proposed budget come to be $510,000, and include a proposed $40,000 for the contracting of a public relations firm.

Proposed assessments from district ratepayers are expected to raise $4.6 million in the next fiscal year, up from this year's $4.483 million.

The district is also expected to begin receiving money from its partners in the village. The district is expecting $1.7 million from the village as part of an interlocal agreement to treat its sewage. Revenue from servicing Islamorada residents is also expected to increase from $57,000 to $557,000 next year.

This year the district is also budgeting $10,000 for low-income assistance programs.

The district was expected to review the budget at its meeting Tuesday, Aug. 12. Results from the meeting were not available at press time.

jgore@keysnews.com

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