By Steve Plunkett
    
Buoyed by its recent settlement of all public records litigation by resident Chris O’Hare, the town plans to cut its legal budget for the coming fiscal year by 30 percent.
    Gulf Stream will set aside $400,000 for outside legal expenses, down from an expected $571,000, Town Manager Greg Dunham said.
    Cash reserves will top $2.6 million on Oct. 1, he said, continuing a recovery after the battle over public records requests drained the fund four years ago to $752,000. That led Dunham to recommend a property tax rate of $4.36 per $1,000, more than a penny under the rollback rate (the number that would generate the same revenue as in the current year). Town commissioners unanimously agreed. Dunham’s budget “looks reasoned and appropriate,” Mayor Scott Morgan said.
    A week later, commissioners awarded a $224,900 contract to build the 696-square-foot west addition to Town Hall. Republic Construction Corp. of Delray Beach submitted the winning bid and said the work would be finished in six months.
    Highlights of Dunham’s budget included $20,000 for a proposed second phase of a barrier island fire study, $235,000 for paving and striping roads, another $235,000 to upgrade storm drains and $211,000 for smart water meters.
    Town employees will receive 3 percent raises. Dunham also wants $30,000 for a long-range capital improvements plan.
    Commissioners will discuss the budget again Aug. 11.

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