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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Pinellas officials say they can't take deeper cuts

As the Pinellas County Commission wades through budget presentations Tuesday, one argument keeps being made by countywide elected officials: they can't take any deeper cuts.

The commission decided earlier this year they wanted the clerk of courts, property appraiser, tax collector, supervisor of elections and sheriff to make 15 percent cuts. The county faces an $80 million shortfall over the next two years, though a recent property tax estimate will likely trim $7.1 million out of it.

But budgets from those officials have all missed that 15 percent mark. The closest was the Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark at 14 percent, and Tax Collector Diane Nelson reached 12 percent. But Clerk Ken Burke hit a reduction of 1.5 percent, and Property Appraiser Pam Dubov reached 5 percent. Sheriff Jim Coats reached 10 percent.

"I'm sorry to say we haven't met that goal. I'm disappointed," said Burke, who made deeper cuts in past year.

All told, they fell $11.5 million short of their $39 million goal for the 2011 budget -- mostly from the sheriff's $9.6 million miss.

But when Commissioner John Morroni and Ken Welch asked where the money should be cut, they failed to get specific answers or issues they had the authority to address. Dubov suggested lessening contributions to the state employee retirement system, and Burke suggested other services without naming them.

David DeCamp, Times staff writer

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


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