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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

St. Petersburg has an overtime-driven deficit — for now

The city is running a $2.8 million deficit, mostly because of overtime costs, budget offiicals told a City Council committee Thursday.

As the city prepares next year's budget, the gap would be met with surplus funds, Budget Director Tom Greene has said.

For the current fiscal year, the council approved a $224 million budget. But increased costs have put the city in what may just be a temporary hole, Greene told the Budget, Finance and Taxation Committee.

The biggest driver is overtime, Greene told council members. 

"That's the one that is striking in my mind," he said. 

Police overtime is a big part of that, he said, but the overtime costs are "citywide" he said. 

Council member Darden Rice asked Greene to provide the committee with a more detailed explanation for the deficit.

The last two fiscal years had similar deficits at this point in the year, Greene said, although they were smaller. Last year, the city ended its fiscal year in September with a surplus. Fluctuating expenses and tax recepits are hard to predict and vary seasonally, he has said.

An outstanding $2.2 million loan from the federal Housing and Urban Development Agency could erase most of the deficit, but that loan still depends HUD approval of the city's plans to create 65 jobs at its Commerce Park industral site. Earlier this year, Mayor Rick Kriseman selected a motorcycle dealership and service center and a marine parts business as tenants. The council is scheduled to consider those leases next week. 

But it is still unclear if the city can take the HUD loan off the books. Finance officials are still reviewing when it would be appropriate to do so because HUD requires a certain amount of jobs to be created on the site, which hasn't happened yet.

[Last modified: Thursday, May 12, 2016 9:24am]


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