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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Latvala open to Pinellas tax rate increase

Months after Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch broached the idea of a tax rate increase to stave off some budget cuts, Commissioner Susan Latvala told the Times editorial board Monday she is opens to do it.

Just one problem, she said: there needs to be four votes. Asked if if she'd be willing to be one of them, the Republican seeking re-election said: "Yes I would."

But when Welch raised the idea -- noting many, but not all, homeowners could still pay lower taxes because of falling property values -- Latvala and other board members were silent.

"I know there was no support. It's an election year and I'm supposed to be running as a Republican," said Latvala, adding that public won't support tax increases offered "willy nilly." Eventually, she said, the county will face a millage rate increase after the economy and budget hit bottom. But she cringed seeing a reporter write down her answer.

Why? Her opponents in the Aug. 24 primary have been skeptical if not outright opposed to tax increases while the economy struggles. Carl Folkman recently aid he wouldn't support any new tax, and Beverley Billiris has questioned adding taxes, too.

-- David DeCamp, Times staff writer

[Last modified: Thursday, September 16, 2010 3:40pm]


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