Vero Council considers taxes, budget and furloughs Tuesday

By Lisa ZahnerVERO BEACH — The Vero Beach City Council will meet at 5 p.m. today in a special call session to have a public hearing of the millage rate, the 2009-2010 budget and to vote on furloughs of employees, which would help the City meet that budget and keep the millage rate at 1.94 to keep property taxes low.Employees except for police officers would take one unpaid day off per month, beginning in October. In the current proposal, City Hall would not be closed, but employees would stagger the days to cover for each other.Also on the agenda is the ratification of a collective bargaining agreement that would provide for union workers to also take furloughs. During budget workshops, the City’s proposal had included money-saving measures such as closing the Royal Palm Pointe fountain, which met with much opposition and a protest of kids, parents and grandparents at the fountain. The budget for the City of Vero Beach totals about $172 million, with $23 million of that coming from the general fund. About $5 million of the general fund is derived from property taxes.Though the increases in utility rates are not on today’s agenda, the operating budgets of the electric, water and sewer utilities are based on revenues gleaned from those proposed changes. The Council will take up utilities again on Sept. 15.The City has also retained direct transfers into the general fund of about $7 million from the utilities, plus administration charges of another $4 million or so, which pads the general fund and pays for top management positions and City Hall operations.The meeting will take place in the Council Chambers and is open to the public.

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