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Palmetto commissioners start to face the budgetary music


PALMETTO - Maybe the beat got to them.

It's in the City Clerk's part of the budget (a 12MB PDF file), after the $1,200 annual charge for Overnight Shipping and above the $225 annual charge for maintaining the restroom in City Hall.



Yes, music. Those lovely melodies you hear when you're on hold while calling the city of Palmetto's offices might just be something to fill the dead air before you're connected, but they cost the city $300 a year.

City Clerk Jim Freeman said Thursday night, after the City Commission's budget workshop, that the city pays license fees to ASCAP for the use of that music.

Needless to say, that's going to be looked at in a city whose budget deficit in its General Fund is $540,000 and whose deficit in the Building Department is $400,000, with General Fund revenues down over $1 million from 2009 budgeted estimates.

The commissioners discussed the Commission and City Clerk's budgets Thursday in a short workshop and raised concerns about some items.

Commissioner Tamara Cornwell took issue with several items, including a $100 expenditure for an ad in the Palmetto High School yearbook, noting that the city doesn't place ads in any other school yearbooks.

Commissioner Tambra Varnadore said it was "ridiculous" that the city was paying Bank of America $18,000 a year in fees, and it was agreed that there would be a Request For Proposal going out in November for a new bank.

Other issues raised included benefits for Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant, though Bryant pointed out that while she is technically working part-time, and the pay is $39,700 a year plus benefits, she often does a lot more, reminding Commissioner Mary Lancaster that on one occasion she returned a call late at night, and has had to deal with situations at City Hall.

The city's postage meter leases also came up for discussion, with Commissioner Brian Williams asking why there has to be more than one postage meter, but staff pointed out that having a central postage meter at City Hall would mean driving to headquarters to meter mail and use up fuel and employee time.

With a total budget of $24.1 million, the city could raise its millage rate from 4.662 up to the rollback rate, which Freeman said he has calculated at 5.192. That hasn't been decided yet, but he said property values in the city have fallen, and that has hurt the city.

In the proposed 2010 budget are warnings that in addition to no raises or cost-of-living increases, and that staffers are looking for more reductions.

The next City Commission workshop is on July 20 from 4:30 to 6 p.m., and followed by a City Commission and Community Redevelopment Agency meeting at 7 p.m. The next day, July 21, there will be another budget workshop at 5:30 p.m. All meetings are at Palmetto City Hall, 516 Eighth Ave. W. in Palmetto.


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