Iorio tells mayor's candidates she'll hand over the city in good shape
TAMPA -- In an e-mail to the five candidates to succeed her, Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio Wednesday morning offered this good news: the city budget's fund balance -- in essence, its reserves -- stands at a record $150 million. That's equal to more than 36 percent of projected expenditures in the general and utility tax funds.
By comparison, when Iorio took office, the city's general fund and utility tax fund had a total of about $50.8 million in reserves. That was equivalent to about 15 percent of city expenditures.
"It is anticipated that some of the fund balance will be used in the 2011 budget, but that amount depends upon your approach to spending by the departments," Iorio said in her e-mail. "Our actual spending in 2010 is less than in 2009, and that is the approach I have been taking in order to bolster reserves. The city is in good financial shape and as long as you continue to strategically shrink city government it should continue to be financially healthy."
During her two terms as mayor, Iorio said she has tried to build up city reserves, which she came to see as inadequate after seeing the hurricanes of 2004 tear through other parts of Florida. Having healthy reserves gives the city rainy day money for emergencies, city officials say, and impresses bonding agencies. That, in turn, means the city gets lower interest rates and saves money when it goes into the bond market to borrow.