Longboat Key’s amended five-year capital improvement plan will be a little different from what was planned.
City Manager Tom Harmer explained the reasoning for making changes.
“We knew we had funds in the general fund that were unencumbered,” Harmer said. “It was above reserve levels, and we had a capital plan and some capital requirements, so it was during retirement (October 18, 2021) a talking point to say, we can allocate that money for these things.”
During the retreat, city commissioners outlined how they would like the city to use the $3,654,228 it is to receive as part of the $350 billion in COVID-19 relief funds provided by the American Rescue Plan. Act of 2021 (ARPA).
Commissioners said they would like the city to allocate funds for the sewer line that runs under Sarasota Bay to a mainland treatment plant, as well as sea level rise and stormwater management. Harmer said the city plans to do a stormwater assessment for the Buttonwood Harbor and Sleepy Lagoon neighborhoods. City staff plan to introduce budget changes for those projects later, according to a memo from Chief Financial Officer Sue Smith.
After the retreat, city leaders also decided that the balance of unrestricted funds beyond 60 days was approximately $651,000, which would be used to advance certain projects in the CIP’s five-year plan. Since the retirement, the unaudited balance of the city’s unrestricted funds over 60 days has grown to $1,009,989.
“You had asked us to go back and look at the capital plan and look at ways to accelerate some projects to fiscal year 2022, and actually use some of those fund balance reserves. that we have incorporated beyond the 60 days,” Smith told the commissioners.
Changes approved by the City Commission include:
- Reduced the cost of a new fire truck by $250,000 in fiscal year 2025. The city had requested a ladder truck, but it was replaced with a regular truck. It would maintain the city’s current capabilities of two ladder trucks and a fire truck.
- The cost of $140,000 for mobile data terminals and mobile tablets for the Longboat Police Department and the Longboat Key Fire Rescue Department is transferred to the infrastructure surcharge program instead of being funded ad valorem.
- Tennis fencing is moved to fiscal year 2022 from fiscal year 2025-2026. The city also added $110,000 to the existing budget of $10,000.
- The $149,000 cost of replacing the roof of Fire Station 91 at 5490 Gulf of Mexico Drive is transferred from Sarasota County Surtax Funding to Manatee County Surtax Funding.
- The badge-based security system at gate entrances began in 2018 and was scheduled to continue through fiscal year 2026. The city is to spend $90,000 to complete the project in this fiscal year and install security cameras at the station from police.
- Displacement of $55,000 for network infrastructure to make improvements to city facilities, including downtown and cybersecurity upgrades.
“It was really (city staff) coming back to the commission to say, ‘Here’s our recommended plan,'” Harmer said.
District 2 Commissioner Penny Gold asked if the city would consider replacing municipal vehicles with electric vehicles.
“Right now we have funding in place for the regular replacement of our fleet,” Smith said. “Whether or not we buy an electric vehicle is still to be determined and which ones (are) still to be determined.”
Smith said the city could answer Gold’s question about electric vehicles in the fiscal year 2023 budget.
District 5 Commissioner Maureen Merrigan questioned why the $120,000 allocation for fencing replacement at the public tennis center took priority over other city needs.
“We obviously don’t want to replace something that still has a useful life,” Smith said.
Smith also said the tennis center’s fencing was “in poor condition in some places.”
Federal eligibility rules propose four categories for ARPA funds:
- Replace lost public sector revenue for government services
- Negative economic impacts of COVID-19
- Wage premium for essential workers
- Water, sewer and broadband infrastructure improvements
As of September 2021, Longboat Key has received approximately $1.83 million of the total. The municipality should receive the other half in September 2022.
While the city has until December 31, 2026 to spend the federal government money, it must allocate the funds by December 31, 2024.
Join the neighborhood! Our 100% local content helps strengthen our communities by delivering relevant news and information to our readers. Support independent local journalism by joining The Observer’s new membership program – The Newsies – a group of like-minded community citizens like you. .