Indian Trail Improvement District staff members rolled out a $14,045,613 budget for fiscal year 2016-17 last week, presenting the spending plan to the ITID Board of Supervisors.
The budget presented at the Wednesday, May 18 meeting focuses on canal and road improvements. It is slightly higher than the $13,974,729 approved for fiscal year 2015-16.
Maintenance got the biggest share at $6,211,703, up from $5,681,155 in 2015-16.
“This year our top priority is the drainage, to develop a comprehensive drainage plan,” Finance Director Don Rinzel said. “We’ve done a lot of projects this year. We replaced three culverts this year, we’re doing two and we’ve got one more. We’re definitely moving forward with improving our drainage, and we want to continue to do that.”
In the past year and a half, the district has been dredging canals, including all the minor canals.
“We have the machinery now, and we have a crew that’s going along and redoing the slopes on the smaller canals,” Rinzel said. “We’re going to continue to do that as well.”
Improving telemetry and automation for the canal structures is another main goal included in the budget. “That’s a great help to all our crews,” Rinzel said. “They can monitor it remotely rather than going to every station and hand cranking it, so it’s definitely going to be a plus for the district.”
Road maintenance and operations account for 44 percent of the total budget.
The parks department is 9 percent of the total proposed budget at $1,222,112, down slightly from $1,355,580 this year.
Aquatic plant control is up slightly at $318,345, compared with $309,791 this year.
Debt service accounts for 14 percent of the budget at $1,931,768, which will be down from $2,204,348 this year.
The administration budget is set to go up to $1,834,258 from $1,761,090 this year, due mainly to increased employee and professional costs.
There is an 11.9 percent average increase for units of about $55 per acre, and about 13 percent for activated units. The average annual assessment is $533 per acre.
Pump operations and maintenance in respective basins are budgeted for $2,085,130 in the M-1, down from $2,246,858 this year; $318,707 for the M-2, up from $239,832 this year; and $63,500 for the M-1S (Bay Hill Estates), down from $117,075 this year.
“Compared to last year, there’s not a huge increase in our overall budget,” Rinzel said. “It’s about $70,000. There are some differences from last year, though. Last year we had a lot of carryover. This year, there’s not so much carryover because we spent a lot of that money.”
The budget proposes an employee merit increase of 1.7 percent tied to the federal cost of living adjustment.
“The last merit increase for employees was in December 2014,” he said. “The parks and recreation bonds are paid off this year. Our final payment is in August. That will save us about $120,000 per year.”
The budget includes the replacement of Citrus Grove Park playground equipment at a cost of $125,000. It also includes the start of the R-2 road overlay project originally proposed about 10 years ago, intended to bring every homeowner within a half-mile of a paved road, at about $750,000 per year for 10 years.
The budget will also begin collecting money to replace a second inverted siphon in the drainage system.
“I’m proposing breaking this up over six years,” Rinzel said. “The more we can collect in advance, the less we’ll have to put out all at once.”
The budget also proposes the continuation of canal maintenance in the M-1 and M-2 basins, estimated at $500,000 per year, and culvert replacement estimated at about $1 million per year.
“That’s a 20-year project,” Rinzel said. “We started that two years ago, and we’ve been going through a million dollars each year.”
Reserves are about 25 percent above the recommended amount, and Rinzel noted that the district spent about $920,000 in reserves last year in order to reduce assessments, and proposed using almost $680,000 in the coming year.
“We’re budgeted to hold about 25 to 30 percent of the future year’s budget in reserves,” he said. “We have a little bit above that, so I’ve been using that in the past three or four years. Eventually, we’re going to be right at that 25 to 30 percent, and we will not be able to use that. So right now it’s lowering our assessment, but in the future, we’re not going to be able to lower our assessments.”
The district will also remain focused on completion of the Acreage Community Park expansion, which will not come out of assessments but from utility fund money, Rinzel said.
The budget also proposes the staggered purchase of road graders so that the cost is spread out. Three of the graders are leased. “Eventually we’ll get off the leases, and we’ll have them all owned,” he said.
The next discussion on the budget will be at the TRIM (truth in millage) hearing at the ITID board meeting on Wednesday, June 15.