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Council OKs update of budget program

April 8, 2014
Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

City Council's only agenda item requiring a vote Monday night was on a resolution brought to them by City Manager John Szerlag seeking approval to hire Burton & Associates to update the city's general fund sustainability modeling analysis.

Szerlag presented the proposal to council as a courtesy since the expenditure for the study of $33,448 falls below the $50,000 threshold that requires council approval.

"It is within my purview to do this study, I just want to discuss the proposal with council as well as our interest in contracting again with Burton & Associates," said Szerlag.

Burton & Associates created the multi-year financial model analysis for the city in 2012 for Fiscal Year 2013 and it was used to address the city's strategic plan goal of financial sustainability. It allowed council to make budgetary decisions and view the impact of those decisions on future budgets.

In a memo to council, Szerlag said, "It is management's responsibility to present an annual budget for your consideration and adoption.The most successful process comes from an interactive method where policy decisions can be discussed with an understanding of future consequences. The model created by Burton & Associates is a dynamic tool and allows consideration of multiple solutions. The model provides a diagnostic view of current conditions and real-time consideration of 'what if' scenarios, which change the revenue and expenditures variables."

One revenue stream not included in the original modeling program was uncertainty of the fire assessment tax and contemplation of a millage reduction. When the appeal of the fire assessment tax is resolved, a final plan can be developed during this update.

Councilmembers Rick Williams and Derrick Donnell expressed opposition to the resolution and ultimately cast "no" votes, but the measure passed by a 6-2 margin.

"I will not support this," said Williams. "I don't see the need to spend this money on an outside source to tell us how to spend our money. That can be done by our staff and the money can be better spent in other ways. I don't hear anyone proposing to bring it in-house."

Financial Services director Victoria Bateman replied, "We won't have to update it after this year. We can't change the program here because the fire assessment tax was up in the air at the time."

Councilmember John Carioscia asked, "Is there a program out there for about the same money that we can buy?"

Mayor Marni Sawicki and Councilmember Rana Erbrick gave high praise for the Burton program having seen first hand how it works. They went so far as to say they wished they could use the program at home.

"I appreciate the city manager bringing this to us," said Councilmember Jim Burch. "From the perspective of a new/old councilmember it's good to hear the background on this program."

In other items on the agenda, three ordinances were introduced to council and assigned public hearings at the next council meeting on April 21.

Two of the ordinances deal with conveying two parcels of surplus real property to different entities. The third amends the city's ordinance which adopted the city's operating budget, revenues and expenditures, and capital budget for FY 2014 by increasing the total revenues and expenditures by $12.2 million.



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