Councilwoman Pontieri Holds Town Hall To Discuss Budget and Infrastructure

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Thursday July 28th, 2023, Councilwoman Theresa Carli Pontieri held a town hall meeting to talk about the ins and outs of the City budgeting process, and it’s infrastructure. This town hall was a presentation where Pontieri discussed the different types of City Funds, their uses, how the money comes into the funds as well as infrastructure both current and future. Following the presentation, Pontieri opened the floor up for resident questions afterwards, and she spent time answering every question asked.

Pontieri started off by explaining some of the key aspects about government budgeting and funds that are very different from private sector budgeting and funding. In the beginning of her presentation, Pontieri made a statement that while she has been studying how the City Government budget system works, she is not an expert on it.

Pontieri’s presentation started by talking about our existing infrastructure regarding our canal system, our unique stormwater system and the fact that while Palm Coast is a relatively small town, it has 1200 miles of roads. She went on to talk about how Palm Coast, like other cities, has four major funds; The General Fund, the Special Revenues Fund, Capital Fund, and Proprietary Fund. The General Fund is what Pontieri considered the main operating fund, and that fund pays for everything from administration, to fire and police, etc. We pay the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office out of the General Fund as well as admin functions, and this fund is funded by your property taxes, the portion of your property taxes that are given to the City out of your property tax bill. Flagler County is how collects the property taxes for resident homes, and the City of Palm Coast receives 24% of your property taxes to pay for the maintenance of the City while Flagler County Government retains 76% of the tax revenue for property taxes. The General Fund also receives some funds by state share revenue funds, and some of the fees for services like fines and permits.

Pontieri went on to explain the Special Revenue Fund and how it is a very different fund. She also noted that none of the different funds can co-mingle as far as the money that goes into each. She went on to explain that specific taxes, grants and donations are what funds the Special Revenue Fund and that those specific taxes, grants and donations cannot be put into other funds. The Special Revenue Fund is used for projects like street improvements.

Pontieri went on to explain the Capital Fund, which is used for the bigger projects that take a longer time. This funds the major infrastructure projects like road expansions and facility upgrades. This fund is funded by impact fees that developers pay. Essentially the developers pay impact fees which then go into the Capital Fund to pay for the impact their development will create to our existing infrastructure. Pontieri did state later on in the town hall that City Council will be reviewing impact fees in the near future but she could not remember at which meeting or which specific impact fee they would be looking at.  Pontieri talked about the Southern Rec Center being built and how that is funded by Grant, Flagler County Tourism Development Council and partially by impact fees from developers.

Pontieri then went over the last Fund type that the City of Palm Coast has, which is the Proprietary Fund. Pontieri explained that the Proprietary Fund is for the most part self funded via user fees. This includes things like trash collection, utilities, etc. The money that is collected for services like Water and Wastewater, go towards the running of those departments.

Pontieri also talked about the millage rollback as well as the franchise fee that she had championed previously. Ultimately she stated the FPL would not agree to the rate being on the ballot, so therefore she would be withdrawing her motion supporting the franchise fee.  Pontieri talked about the millage rate roll back as well. She went on to state how this will be saving residents a few dollars on their tax bills, as the millage rate went from 4.61mils to 4.289mils, she believes. This means that the City’s General Fund budget has to decrease for the fiscal year 2024 by $2.8 million dollars.

Pontieri continued in her presentation to talk about the ways that she is currently trying to diversify the City’s revenue. She highlighted that currently the majority of City revenue is supported by residents, 92%, while only 8% of the revenue is supported by commercial or non-residential means. Pontieri mentioned that the franchise fee would have been supported by 77% residential means and 23% commercial or non-residential means.  Pontieri also discussed how she is pushing for economic growth, and fighting to make sure that any future development is not rezoned to have residential only, but remains a mix of commercial, industrial, conservation and residential as well.

Once Pontieri finished her presentation, she opened the floor up for questions and comments. Multiple residents came up to ask questions or make comments about issues discussed in, or regarding the presentation. Pontieri made it a point to answer every single resident who came to the microphone. Most often she continuously asked the residents for patience. She stated that it has only been 8 months that she has been in her elected office and she has asked the residents to give her patience to try and find ways to lower residents costs while diversifying the City’s revenue. Pontieri continued in many answers defending staff stating that every staff member she has worked with has always proved to be full of integrity, hard working, and dedicated to their jobs and the City of Palm Coast.

The town hall event lasted for one hour and was streamed live to the City’s YouTube page as well as by the radio station. If you missed the town hall and would like to watch it, you can find it here.

By Krys DeWind

Krys DeWind has been a Flagler County resident since 2016. She is active in her community and is always looking for ways to better it. She has a community first attitude which is one of the central founding ideals of the Flagler County Buzz.

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