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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Pinellas faces $21.5 million budget shortfall



LARGO -- As the County Commission and top countywide elected officials meet on budget issues Monday morning, a new Pinellas forecast projects a $21.5 shortfall for next year in the general fund.

That's based on estimates the tax roll countywide will fall again. Property Appraiser Pam Dubov's initial estimate is a 5 percent to 8 percent drop in taxable value.

While it creates a significant hole, the county says the shortfall is actually better than it could be, according to a presentation due at a County Commission meeting Tuesday. Thanks to cuts this year, the general fund, which pays for most services, is $4.4 million ahead of where it originally was projected, equal to 1 percent of general fund spending. But the county also faces a $16 million shortfall in the separate EMS fund.

Monday's meeting is one of the initial steps in planning the next budget. Dubov and other elected officials met partially because some commissioners want offices like the clerk, sheriff and tax collector, elections office and Dubov's office to make a deeper share of cuts than in recent years.

"We are still in a free fall. I know that sounds drastic but since we don't yet see bottom, that's what it is," said County Administrator Bob LaSala.


[Last modified: Monday, January 24, 2011 12:04pm]


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