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Council takes first look at FY ’25 budget at two-day workshop

By MEGHAN BRADBURY - | Jun 13, 2024

With the recent preliminary property appraisal values released, Cape Coral city officials expect an additional $7.5 million in the fiscal year 2025 budget than what was initially planned.

The final topic of discussion from the Cape Coral City Council’s two-day budget workshop last Thursday and Friday took a brief glance at the next steps in the fiscal year 2025 budget process.

Mark Mason, financial service director, said the recent milestone regarding the budget was the release of the preliminary property appraisal valuations

The next step will be receiving the certified taxable value.

Preliminary property appraisal values are designed for planning purposes to give governing bodies an idea of where they stand from a prospective revenue standpoint, he said.

Typically, major shifts are not seen from the June 1 preliminary to July 1 official numbers, although, Mason said, the property appraiser has warned them that the number of properties that have been damaged or destroyed by the hurricane may reflect larger changes than what has been experienced in the past.

“At this point, the city of Cape Coral had the largest taxable value change within the county,” Mason said.

He said the preliminary taxable value is slightly higher than originally forecasted at 10.26%, which will provide an additional $7.5 million from what was initially planned.

Cape Coral saw its estimated overall just valuation dip 1.83%, compared to last year’s 7.28%. Total just property valuation went from $45,992,287,269 to $45,151,544,000, a total decrease of $840,743,269, according to the Lee County Property Appraiser’s preliminary report released last week.

In terms of taxable valuation, overall property valuation, though, increased from $26,262,275,412 to $28,956,229,000, an increase of $2,693,953,588.

The estimate for new construction just for Cape Coral is $1,613,038,527 compared to 2023 final roll of $1,007,852,062. The estimate for new construction taxable for 2024 is $75,485,534 compared to 2023 final roll of $967,591,566.

The 2025 budget needs to be balanced — expenditures need to be balanced to the city’s revenue, Mason said. In addition, city staff wants to make sure they are within the strategic plan and meeting expectations of Council and public.

The proposed millage rate is 5.3694, the current rate, with a 70% cost recovery for fire services, also the current level.

One mill is equal to $1 for every $1,000 of taxable property valuation.

The recovery rate is funded through a fire services assessment, which is separate from and additional to property taxes.

The ad valorem budget went from $132,688,591 in fiscal year 2024 to $140,961,948 in fiscal year 2025.

The fiscal year 2025 staffing proposal includes a total of 61 additional employees — 53 within administration, six for the city attorney and two for the city auditor. Those staffing positions fall within fire, fleet, ITS, parks and recreation, police, property management, solid waste, stormwater and utilities.

Mason said one of the things to be mindful of was the governor, as of the workshops, had not yet signed the state budget — meaning it had not come out yet, which puts a question mark on state forecasting revenues numbers. He said the actual results are generally seen in late July, early August.

The city manager will distribute his proposed budget to Council in July, followed by budget workshops in August and the fiscal year 2025 budget public hearing in September.