City Commissioner Pete Emrich: No North Port is not going bankrupt


Pete Emrich
Please don’t believe rumors and misinformation about the City’s 2021 budget.
Here are several facts after 3 days of lengthy City of North Port budget hearings.
The City isn’t going bankrupt.

City Commissioners don’t make $97,000 a year. Each one makes $30,000.

Commissioners didn’t randomly give raises, they are based on provisions in the new police, fire and blue collar worker union contracts. Breaking these contracts would put the City in a costly legal battle against our own employees and create low morale in the police, fire and other departments.

City Taxes aren’t going up by hundreds of dollars – not even $20.

The City has no control over the property appraiser’s office and doesn’t assess property values. Any increases in property values come from the Property Appraiser’s office.

The City doesn’t have any control over the Sarasota County or School Board budgets or any of their proposed increases.

A $13 to $16 increase is proposed for the fire district.

The fire district is asking for an up to 5% increase in the budget to hire 6 firefighters.

This will cost taxpayer’s $12 a year for those with 5 acres or less (standard lots) and $16 annually for those with specialty homes with amenities.

The police department is staffing dozens of proposed baseball games at the stadium, but will be paid by the Braves and others who use police details. However, the City is required to show the projected amount it will cost in a line item in the budget. If games are canceled or the training season is shortened, the PD will not charge for these services.

There are no proposed increases in Solid Waste garbage and recycling pick up and Road & Drainage Districts. It remains $171.56 for R&D and $245 for Solid Waster/garbage pick up a year.

Commissioners asked for the mlilage rate of 3.875 to stay the same as the 2020 budget.

That proposed operating tax rate means a homeowner pays $3.87 per every $1,000 of assessed taxable valuation of a home which is about $387.
This rate if approved will generate more than $19.07 million dollars in property taxes for $51.04 million dollar general fund.

The General Fund pays for police, parks, City Commission, City Attorney, City Manager, City Clerk, Finance, General Services, Emergency Medical, Building – Planning & Zoning, Building-Property Standards and Building-Property Maintenance departments.

The Property Appraiser’s office reevaluates your home in January. The property appraiser’s office projected homes would be evaluated at about a 10.32% increase in taxable property value.

That could cause a bump the taxable value, but not through City Commissioners’ actions. Anyone who believes their evaluation is incorrect can call the property at (941) 861-8200.

Commissioners asked the city manager and all departments to keep their requests to only needed this year. Rolling back the rate would set the City back and create a need for a big increase next year. In 2020, residents took a hit and we knew homeowners are struggling.

We went through the budget talking to every department head and even going line for line at times in the budget book to see if we could cut or delay several new construction projects. Other things like software upgrades, licensing, utility/pipe replacement and budgeting for mandatory secure space for the police department evidence could not wait.

There were new employees added like an archeologist, crime analyst, homeless caseworker,6 firefighters, a police sergeant, construction project asst. manager and 6 maintenance workers to mow grass that is now being outsourced which will save $70,000 were added to the budget. These positions will NOT add an increase to the proposed $176 million dollar city budget.

The next budget hearing is July 22 at 5 p.m. to set the millage rate.
The current 2020 budget is $175.3 million dollars.

More details to come on projects in the budget.