The proposed 2019-20 fiscal year budget holds the line of property tax rates, but taps into reserves to jump-start the city assuming responsibilities for ambulance service from Sarasota County

VENICE — Major changes for the City of Venice 2019-20 fiscal-year budget includes changes in the way ambulances are purchased — in preparation for the city taking over EMS — as well as the way construction of the new Fire Station 1 is financed, but the $127.9 million proposed budget that Venice City Council members will review Monday evening still calls for a tax rate of 3.7 mills.

Property taxes account for $14.97 million of the city’s $31.13 million general fund.

While the council plans on keeping the millage rate the same as this year, property owners will see a slight decrease in their property tax bill, since the levy to cover bond debt service should be reduced from 0.6380 mils to 0.6200 mils.

Should the council adopt those rates, city property owners would pay $3.70 per $1,000 in taxable value in property taxes and 62 cents per $1,000 in taxable value to pay off the bonds.

Startup costs for the new ambulance service, roughly $1.2 million, will come from budget reserves.

Last month, former Charlotte County Fire & EMS Capt. Nathan McManus was sworn in as the new EMS division chief.

He should be joined by six more paramedics, who would be hired by Dec. 1.

One engine offering advanced life support service and staffed by paramedics could be put into service by March 1, 2020.

Hiring for the other 18 paramedics would be staggered through the year, with the last six hired after Oct. 1, 2020.

Four ambulances will be acquired through a five-year lease purchase plan.

The initial outlay of $1.45 million will come out of the 2019-20 budget, then lease payments of $321,000 a year will start in the 2020-21 fiscal year.

Also in 2020-21, Sarasota County should cease levying a 0.66 mill tax against city property owners, and Venice would raise its own millage rate by that same amount, to pay for ambulance service.

Currently the county’s property tax for EMS service generates about $2.4 million within city limits, and it is projected to generate $2.5 million next year. Fees charged to consumers and typically paid by private insurance or Medicaid generate another $1.55 million.

About $900,000 in revenue from the sale of the Hamilton Building to Venice Theatre will be used to pay for the new fire station, thus reducing the amount of money the city must borrow through a bridge loan to roughly $1.02 million. The remainder of the funds to pay for the $4.3 million facility is budgeted from a one-cent sales tax.

The council will meet at 5:01 p.m. Tuesday, in chambers at Venice City Hall, 401 W. Venice Ave., Venice.

The second budget hearing is scheduled for 5:01 p.m. on Sept. 24.