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City releases pandemic-affected 2021 budget

City releases pandemic-affected 2021 budget
Posted at 2:53 PM, Jul 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-29 21:54:10-04

City Manager Peter Zanoni on Tuesday presented the city council a balanced, billion-dollar budget for the next fiscal year.

However, that budget was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, but how much?

City leaders estimate the pandemic cost the city about about 2 percent of its expected revenues from sales and hotel taxes.

“It’s about $5 million in revenue that’s lost,” said District 4 City Councilman Greg Smith.

Despite that shortfall, don't expect to see massive cuts to city services.

“My leadership strategy is to continue to press forward, whether it’s a hurricane -- like we just had -- or the ongoing pandemic,” said City Manager Peter Zanoni.

Even before the pandemic, the city refinanced old bonds at a lower interest rate, and brought a lot of street maintenance work in-house, which saved millions of dollars.

“The cost differential between the private sector versus the city; we can do it cheaper,” Zanoni said.

The city is taking some of those savings and spending them on some other needed services.

“We’ve actually, in this budget, increased our library hours; we’ve added five new police (officers),” said Smith. “We’re replacing three fire trucks and two ambulances, so the city is moving forward.”

The budget includes $78 million for street repairs, including repaving Shoreline Blvd. and Ocean Dr. from I-37 to Ennis Joslin.

“That pavement now is in terrible condition,” Smith said. “This is our signature street, and we’re going to bring it back to where it ought to be.”

That project goes out for bid in August. Zanoni felt it was important for the city to continue its progress, despite the revenue shortfall.

“Investing in ourselves as a community, in our basic services like streets, public safety, some of our neighborhood services is crucial,” he said. “That’s going to make us a great community -- keep that positive momentum that we have going forward.”

The city has set up a website to give the public more information. The council will spend the next few weeks reviewing the proposal and getting input from residents before voting on the budget in mid-September.