The Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors adopted a $13,170,613 budget on Wednesday for fiscal year 2016-17, trimmed from a $14,045,613 preliminary budget presented last month.
The budget is lower than the current $13,974,729 budget for fiscal year 2015-16.
“This is a similar presentation to the one made last month,” ITID Finance Director Don Rinzel said. “I have made a couple of changes.”
He said that the district’s focus will remain on drainage.
“We’re developing a comprehensive drainage plan,” he said. “We’re going through and replacing a number of culverts this year. We’ve done a lot of canal improvements as far as dredging is concerned, shoring up the banks of a lot of our smaller canals.”
ITID workers are also improving telemetry and continuing the regular schedule of road maintenance, which is about 43 percent of the budget, Rinzel said.
Parks makes up 9 percent, stormwater pump operations and aquatics is 19 percent, administration is 14 percent and debt is 15 percent.
Rinzel noted that much of the debt is units 17 and 18, serving portions of Royal Palm Beach, which does not affect other residents in the district.
By category, he said personnel costs account for 38.18 percent of the budget, operating costs are 32.79 percent and capital outlay is 14.37 percent.
Although assessments vary greatly from unit to unit, the average assessment is going up about $20 per acre, which is about a 4.35 percent increase; and about $25 for active units, which is 4.9 percent higher.
The average assessment is $498 per acre, or about $42 a month, he said.
Rinzel pointed out that all money collected is spent within ITID boundaries.
“We do maintain 889 miles of unpaved roads,” he said. “We also maintain more than 75 miles of paved roads. According to the 2010 census, there’s about 38,000 residents, and I believe that has gone up.”
The district has nine parks covering about 75 acres, and four pump stations.
Rinzel’s proposed budget has a total reduction of about $800,000.
“Debt service is going down slightly because we did pay off our parks bond this year,” he said.
He explained that the budget is down and the assessment is going up because the current budget is using a $1.283 million carry-forward and a portion of the reserves, which was used primarily for canal and culvert improvements.
“We don’t have that carry-forward this year, so that’s why the assessment is going up,” he said, explaining that this year’s carry-forward is expected to be $107,000, which he asked to be used toward the $125,000 cost for Citrus Grove Park playground equipment.
Rinzel is proposing to use about $680,000 of the reserves, and postpone some projects, which he said will reduce the amount of the assessment increase.
He said taking the money from reserves will still leave that fund within the district policy of 25 to 30 percent of the annual budget.
Highlights of the budget include a 1.7 percent merit pay increase for employees, which is tied to the federal cost of living increase policy.
“The last merit raise for employees was December 2014,” he said.
The budget will also initiate the R2 road paving project intended to put all residences within a half-mile of a paved road.
“Our original budget, I proposed $750,000 per year. Talking with our engineer, this is a 10-year project. Our R2 roads are coming up on 20 years in age, so they need to be overlaid,” Rinzel said. “What I’m proposing, since this is the first year of the project, in order to cut down the budget a little, I’m going to do half of that for the first year.”
Rinzel also postponed the collection for a new inverted siphon for a year at a cost of $300,000 a year, which is expected to cost a total of $1.8 million. He said he would like to explore some financing options to pay for the inverted siphon. “If there are grants available, I would like to be able to do that rather than collecting the $300,000 a year,” he said. “Interest rates are low. I could get you some quotes and present that to you.”
The inverted siphon will replace the existing one under the M Canal owned by the City of West Palm Beach. The district’s existing inverted siphon is within the right of way of a canal improvement project underway by the city.
“We’re trying to tie it in with what West Palm Beach is doing there,” he said. “We do have some time to look at that and plan for that.”
The administration budget is going up 4.16 percent, due mainly to employee costs.
The parks budget of $1.22 million is down by about $130,000, principally because of a decreased capital outlay. Maintenance and operations are down about $45,000, also due to a reduction in capital outlay.
“We are going to lease four graders,” Rinzel said, explaining that in the original budget he had proposed purchasing four graders, staggered over four years.
The district currently leases three graders. “I propose we delay purchasing a new grader for a year,” he said. “If the leases get out of hand, we’ll definitely go into purchasing.”
Supervisor Ralph Bair made a motion to accept the budget, which carried 3-2 with supervisors Michelle Damone and Gary Dunkley opposed.
The deadline for submittal of the Truth in Millage (TRIM) assessments to the Palm Beach County Property Appraiser’s Office is July 24. The board’s meeting for final certification of the assessment roll is set for Aug. 17.
ABOVE: The Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors.