by Max Royle ~ St. Augustine Beach City Manager

In Florida, the fiscal year for cities and counties goes from October 1st to the following September 30th. Don’t ask me why the fiscal year and calendar years aren’t the same. Maybe the reason can be found courtesy of Encyclopedia Googletanica. Anyway, before going “into the weeds” of your City’s proposed FY 2022 budget, here’s a “bare bones” outline of it:
The budget has four funds:

General Fund: $10,195,173
Road/Bridge Fund:  $895,572
Debt Service Fund:  $1,078,382
Capital Projects Fund:  $3,360,000
TOTAL: $15, 529,127

The General Fund has revenues and expenditures for those departments that provide services directly to the citizens (City Commission, Police, Public Works, Building) and the departments, such as Finance/Administration, that are essential for the functioning of the City’s government: processing and paying the bills, issuing employee pay checks and carrying out such responsibilities as risk management and human resources.

The Road/Bridge Fund is necessary to segregate money from the local option gas tax and transportation impact fees because the money can be spent only for expenses that are directly related to the City’s roads and sidewalks.
The Debt Service Fund’s name should explain the reason for this fund, as should the name of the Capital Projects Fund. Money from the latter pays for vehicles, equipment and major projects, such as the new weir for the City’s Mizell Road drainage retention pond.

Time for more “weeds”: At its July 26th meeting, the City Commission reviewed the proposed budget with interested citizens and the staff and set the preliminary operating millage at 2.5998 mills and the debt millage at .50 mills.
For citizens who don’t know what millage means and its role in determining your property tax bill, here’s an explanation: “Mill” comes from the Latin word “mille,” meaning a thousand. For calculating property taxes, the formula is the assessed value of your property as determined by the Property Appraiser divided by 1,000 (a mill) times the millage set by the City Commission.

The median assessed value of a residential property in our City is $414,400 before applicable homestead exemptions are deducted. For Fiscal Year 2021, the City’s millage is 2.4500 mills, or $2.45 for every $1,000 of a property’s assessed value. The formula that determines the property taxes the owner pays to the City is: assessed value ($414,400) divided by 1,000 (a mill) equals 414 times the millage (2.4500) for a City property tax of $1,015.28. The County, School Board and special taxing districts use the same formula to calculate the property taxes you pay them.

At 2.5998 mills, the Fiscal Year 2022 property tax for your $414,400 house would be $1,077.36, which is an additional $62.08 or $5.17 more a month than what you paid at 2.4500 mills. Not a large increase when you consider that for $1,077.36 you get a City Commission that provides a forum for public discussion and adopts policies and ordinances that address citizens’ concerns; a 24/7 Police Department to protect your life and property; a Public Works Department to keep the City’s streets, sidewalks and drainage systems in good repair; code enforcement and comprehensive planning; and a well-functioning Finance and Administration Department to make certain your money is legally spent for authorized purposes.

There’s much more about the City’s FY 22 budget than what I’ve briefly explained here. You can see the entire budget as well as the excellent explanation of it by the City’s Finance Director, Patty Douylliez, at staugbch.com.

The City Commission’s next review of the millage and budget will be at a public hearing on Monday, September 13, 2021, at 5 p.m. in city hall. Hope to see you there.