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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Dunedin's 2013 budget proposal contains steady tax rate, staff and library cuts



DUNEDIN -- The city property tax rate would remain the same and staffers would receive 1 percent raises under a preliminary budget City Manager Rob DiSpirito presented to the City Commission on Monday.

However, stormwater rates would increase, the library would have to cut hours and materials, and five city employees would lose their jobs.

DiSpirito says the cuts would offset a projected $1.2 million revenue shortfall in the general fund next year.

Officials based that shortfall estimate on several factors: reports that county property values have dropped an estimated 2.2 percent; a $600,000 to $700,000 drop in electric utility franchise fee collections due to a warm winter; a $330,000 drop in revenues following Dunedin's 5 percent millage rate reduction last year, and lower than expected Penny for Pinellas revenues.

The proposed 2013 budget of $71.3 million represents a $3.8 million, or 5 percent, reduction from last year's budget.

Like last year, department heads built their budgets from the ground up, with supervisors instructed to cut only items that wouldn't affect "quality of life" amenities.

Despite the proposed cuts, DiSpirito said the city is coping well financially. This proposed budget, he said, marks the 10th year since Dunedin last raised its millage rate.

"We've kept our services largely intact and shed approximately $14 million in five years, and we will have done that without once raising taxes - in fact, we're the only city to lower them," DiSpirito said.

City commissioners will spend the next few weeks hashing out which cuts they support for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. They will adopt a final budget following public hearings in September.

Among the considerations:

  • Cut four Saturday hours at the library and reduce spending on audio books, DVDs and other materials by 25 percent

  • Pull $196,500, or about 1 percent, from city reserves to fund several miscellaneous items, such as replacement equipment and furniture, election expenses and aid to struggling community organizations. DiSpirito said this use of reserves would relieve strain on the general fund and prevent impact on public services.

  • Cut 10 staff positions through attrition, reorganization, elimination of vacant positions and the layoffs of five workers -- saving the city $353,000 annually. The remaining 336 employees would receive an across-the-board 1 percent raise.

  • Raise monthly stormwater fees by 50 cents to $9.30 to help fund ongoing improvement projects.

Read DiSpirito's letter outlining his proposal here. View budget documents and watch video of the budget workshops here.

--Keyonna Summers, Times Staff Writer

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 11, 2012 11:10am]


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