Pete Emrich: It’s budget time in North Port. The following is an brief overview of the proposed $176 million dollar budget.



Pete Emrich



It’s budget time. The following is an brief overview of the proposed $176 million dollar budget. The current 2020 budget is $175.3 million dollars.


The 2021 budget calls for several new positions, including 6 in the Road and Drainage District and 6 in the fire department, also a couple in the police and General Services department and a infrastructure inspector, construction project manager, assistant project manager and a new position in Economic Development.In Road & Drainage, the city outsources mowing for highly visible areas. During the years, the city hired numerous commercial landscape contractors. Each had severe issues in maintaining the city’s established level of service.

The operations and maintenance division is requesting 4 equipment operator positions, 2 equipment operators to start Jan. 1, 2021. They need trailers, zero, turn mowers, weed eaters, edgers and blowers.
A cost analysis found the city could save $53,000 a year by purchasing the necessary vehicles and hiring additional staff and doing it in house instead of spending $300,000 a year on these mowing services.


The city is looking to purchase two mobile message board signs for $32,000. They would be shared citywide to alert motorists about detours, hurricane supplies like sandbags, city events, upcoming construction, road closings, bad crashes/delays, and other quick alerts for drivers.

The Solid Waste budget is $9.6 million dollars which includes $2 million in salaries, $2 million in professional contract services, $2 million in current operating charges and $1 million in other supplies.There is a request for $454,400 for a recycling center and organics transfer station on the eastern end of town. A recycling center will allow trucks to bring items to the center in North Port so items can be consolidated. The city will save money and wear and tear on garbage and recycling trucks.


The Emergency Management budget is $8.9 million dollars and includes $5.1 million in salaries and $1 million in overtime. The cost for operating supplies is $482,680 and $227,950 in repairs and maintenance, $60,240 in electricity and $249,180 in professional contracting services.They are asking for $30,580 for a power load stretcher lift system and pro power stretcher for the new ambulance.The fire rescue district budget is $12.8 million with $5.8 million in salaries and $2.6 million in benefits. The operating costs are $2.1 million dollars; repairs and maintenance is $628,310 and operating supplies is $437,300.

The district is asking for $20,000 for training and $100,000 toward the purchase of engines, ladder trucks, water tankers and staff vehicles. This is necessary to ensure the stability and availability of funds and a replacement vehicle is needed. In the past, the city borrowed an ambulance from Sarasota County fire rescue. They no longer allow that option to the city. The city must have its own funding for replacement vehicles when one is down for maintenance or totaled.

Fire-rescue is requesting to add back funding for 6 firefighter paramedic recruit physicians to the fire district. These additional positions would be used to absorb attrition and prepare for staffing an additional ambulance for the year 2022. These positions were defunded in 2019-20 to make budget.
These positions would be funded 100% by the fire district at a cost of $314,500. The fire rescue budget is in negotiations with engineering design consultant for a new building in the West Villages neighborhood.


The Road and Drainage district is asking for $100,000 to repair damaged sidewalks, trip hazards and regular maintenance. There’sa request for $43,910 for a structure inspector and $36,000 for a heavy equipment truck to remove thick vegetation.


Public Works is asking for a shared project manager working between the Road and Drainage, Fire and the Utilities Department. The $70,450 position would come from the general fund.

The district is also asking for a construction technical assistant at $52,420.The Road and Drainage district fund is $20 million dollars with approximately $5 million in salaries, $8.7 million in operational cost; $15,000 for street lights for poorly-lit areas of the community. The district spends $126,030 in supplies, $205,282 for out source services and $1.1 million dollars in operating expenses.


The police department requests a digital evidence position for $30,440 and a crime analyst.The police department did 117 special details in 2019. It’s requesting $199,702 for police events at the Braves stadium including 70 games for the new Fire Frogs minor league baseball team acquired by the Braves.The police department budget is $20.5 million dollars with $12.36 million in salaries including $140,150 for an executive salary, $106 2620 in training, $20,520 for investigations. Police travel is $90,000 for officers to go to training and other police-related issues.

Police communication services are budgeted at $199,850.The department is asking for equipment for backup and disaster recovery for $247,500. Not purchasing it could put the city’s data at risk if lost.

Updates to GIS software cost $50,178.The department is asking for 1 new police sergeant at $71,300 for oversight of the K-9 handlers, traffic unit and an additional explosive detection dog for the 2021 budget.


The interlocal agreement with Sarasota County Parks and Recreation and North Port ends June 20-21.

If the city must assume responsibility of what the county was maintaining, the city would take over 10 multi-purpose Fields, 5 baseball field, 5 softball fields, two volleyball courts, one dock with water access and 125 acre Environmental Park in North Port Estates. It will be costly.

Salaries for Parks and Recreation is $922,850, electricity is $165,090, operation costs are $20,249, supplies or a $192,002. The operational budget is $1.6 million dollars. Overtime is $7,000.


In Utilities there are 17 chemical dumps skids in various stages of their life throughout the water treatment facilities. These deliver chemicals into the system to effectively treat water before transmission through the distribution system. The department will use $70,000 will replace two of those 17 pump skids.$40,000 is requested to manage and distribute regulatory reports of the water treatment plant.$40,000 is needed for lightning protection system at the city’s water treatment and pumping facilities.


Other funding mechanisms for the city, not paid by taxpayers include the forfeiture fund of $21,760, police education fund which is paid for through tickets and fines there has $14,000 in it. The escheated lot fund is paid for by default taxes and has $250,000 in it.The Parks fund has $11,203 in it. The law enforcement impact fee fund has $200,400 in it. The fire impact fee fund has $551,250 in it.The fire department is proposing a ambulance for $353,000 out of the penny sales tax fund.

The Parks and Recreation Impact Fee Fund has $650,000 in it.The government impact fee fund has $60,000 in it.

The road construction bond debt service will $2.6 million toward the road bond in 2021. (Homeowners pay $46 a year toward paying back the road bond).

The infrastructure sales tax, commonly known as the penny sales tax, is estimated at $9.2 million dollars. This will fund police and fire vehicles as well as one-time construction fees.


We will have two budget hearings and two regular budget meetings before Sept. 30. The new budget year begins Oct. 1.

The public is welcome to comment at ALL phases of this process. It’s best to comment early in the process to help commissioners ahead of time. Usually we see dozens of people at the last hearing. The city cannot miss the Sept. 30 deadline for filing a balanced budget or the city receives a daily fine.
email [email protected] if you want to send all commissioners comments at one time.