INDIAN RIVER SHORES — As property tax revenues decline and state cost-sharing dollars evaporate, cities and towns all over the state will be scrutinizing their budgets — even for essential services — as the Town of Indian River Shores will be looking at the 2011-2012 Public Safety Department budget on June 23.
The Town of Indian River Shores prides itself on having a first-rate Public Safety Department which provides fire-rescue and police services to Town residents and most of the taxes pay to keep that department running.
Town Manager Richard Jefferson did not give any indication to the Town Council as to whether or not he would be recommending any major cuts to the Public Safety Department budget.
It was suggested by finance staff that only about 45 or 50 minutes was needed to review the public safety budget.
“Let’s give ourselves more time, it’s 90 percent of our budget,” said Councilwoman Frannie Atchison.
The town’s budget for the 2010-2011 fiscal year ending Sept. 30 is $4.36 million, down from $4.69 million the prior year. More than $3.4 million of the current year’s budget goes for public safety.
Last year, the Town tapped into reserves, using about $313,000 to balance the budget.
Councilman Dick Haverland, who joined the council in March, has called for major budget cuts of “at least $500,000” or property tax increases to adjust to the new fiscal reality the Town faces.
Public Safety Chief Bill Schauman has already been working on one revenue source that would help defray the cost of providing public safety services.
Up until now, the Shores has not charged for ambulance transport to the hospital, but is developing a billing system to bill Medicare for transports. About 95 percent of the Shores residents are on Medicare. The recommendation was made not to bill private insurance companies as it would be so few people and it would complicated the billing process.
It’s unclear how much revenue the billing for transports would bring into coffers in the coming years.
The Town Council will meet at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 23 before the regular Town Council meeting to go over the dollars to be spent on Public Safety. Meetings are held in Council Chambers at Town Hall on the corner of Hwy A-1-A and Fred Tuerk Drive.
Meetings are not televised or videotaped, but only audiorecorded.