PALMETTO - It could have been worse.
On Monday night, a split Palmetto City Commission passed an increase in the millage rate on a 3-2 vote that seemed to pit those who wanted the city to have some financial flexibility with those who wanted to see financial responsibility.
City Clerk Jim Freeman said that they could keep the current millage rate of 4.6662 or go all the way to the rollback rate of 5.1925 mills, which with the 13 percent plunge in property values would bring in $4.6 million in revenue. Or they could pick something in between.
The millage rate that was chosen, 4.9162 mills, will bring in $222,000 in added revenue, and give the city some flexibility since that rate could be cut depending on how the city's budget numbers work out.
Commissioners Brian Williams and Alan Zirkelbach were not persuaded, though, of the need for flexibility. Tambra Varnadore pointed out that she had had discussions with officials in other cities and municipalities, and some had sent their rates even higher.
When Tamara Cornwell asked Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant for her view, she said, "I'd use the rollback rate, with the intention of backing off," though she said she agreed with Zirkelbach's reasoning. Still, the budget numbers might be off, Bryant said.
The issue, Williams said, is about being responsible with the budget during tough times and being good stewards of the city's money.
A public hearing on the 2009-10 budget will be held Sept. 14.
City commissioners unanimously passed the ordinance on alcoholic beverages, again amid much discussion over the definition of a restaurant and the wording of the ordinance.
Also passing 5-0 were:
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