Wednesday, August 15, 2018
News Roundup

Buckhorn says there will be no frills in Tampa budget proposal for 2018-19

TAMPA — Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s final budget won’t be sexy.

"This budget doesn’t have a lot of frills in it. There won’t be any new projects of any significance," Buckhorn told the Tampa Bay Times on Wednesday.

Despite a windfall in property tax revenue, Buckhorn, who is term limited, has asked most departments to trim 3 percent from their budgets. The police department may pare back by 1 percent, he said. Many of those cuts might end up being smaller, he said.

Residents shouldn’t notice, the mayor said.

"Services won’t be cut," Buckhorn said. Instead, the city will defer maintenance on city property, delay buying new vehicles and eliminate vacant positions.

After drawing down on the city’s reserves during the first few years after he took office in 2011 because of the lingering recession, the mayor said he’ll continue a recent trend of leaving the city’s rainy day funds alone.

The mayor also repeated his pledge not to raise the millage rate. Property owners will still pay more taxes, though, since the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser’s office recently released its estimates showing more than a 10 percent average increase in city property values.

That added revenue has reduced what had been a $13.5 million preliminary deficit to about $5 million. That’s out of a roughly $1 billion budget, Buckhorn said.

The City Council will get the details on the mayor’s budget at a workshop tomorrow morning.

Buckhorn and budget staff briefed council members this week.

Council member Mike Suarez said he will wait for more details on exactly what will be cut.

"The administration has to make a good case for the cuts they want to make and we’ll go from there," Suarez said.

Last year, Buckhorn’s budget became a sore point for council members who said they wouldn’t have authorized the $35.5 million for Julian B. Lane Park if they knew they were going to be presented with a tax increase. After hours of debate, the council approved a .475 millage increase, hiking the average tax bill by $91.

"There’s no Julian B. Lane this year," said council member Guido Maniscalco. "It’s nothing like last year. I think (approval) will be quick and easy."

The City Council will hold two public hearings on the budget in September. A balanced budget must be approved by the end of that month.

Buckhorn will leave office May 1. That means the next mayor will have just a few months to hammer out a new budget that may contain daunting fiscal challenges.

And future budgets are likely to be a lot more turbulent than this year’s smooth sailing.

The city will owe tens of millions in outstanding bond debt taken out in the mid-1990s to develop Centro Ybor, house a new police headquarters and buy fire department equipment and engines.

And if voters approve an expansion of the homestead exemption, it could reduce city coffers by another $6 million next year.

Not to mention that the police, fire and blue-collar union contracts will all be up for renewal next year.

"The new mayor, as soon as they hit the door here, will have negotiations with the unions as well as the normal budget pressures," Buckhorn said.

Contact Charlie Frago at [email protected] or (727)893-8459. [email protected]

Comments
Baseball: Dunedin Spring Tournament is forced to shift sites for 50th anniversary

Baseball: Dunedin Spring Tournament is forced to shift sites for 50th anniversary

The good news for the Dunedin Spring Tournament is that it will celebrate its 5oth year in 2019. The bad news is that it will be held outside of Dunedin for the first time.Due to planned renovations at Englebert Complex, the tournament will be held a...
Updated: 9 minutes ago
Lawyer says she’s representing parking lot shooter Michael Drejka

Lawyer says she’s representing parking lot shooter Michael Drejka

A Pinellas Park lawyer said she’s planning to represent Michael Drejka, the man who shot and killed Markeis McGlockton in what authorities initially deemed a stand your ground shooting.Whether Lysa Clifton will use that defense against Drejka’s mansl...
Updated: 12 minutes ago
Royal Caribbean will no longer allow emotional support animals on cruises

Royal Caribbean will no longer allow emotional support animals on cruises

In a recent policy change, international cruise line Royal Caribbean has announced it will not allow emotional support animals on its cruise ships effective immediately.The cruise line said emotional support animals, also known as therapy animals, we...
Updated: 14 minutes ago
Tampa ranked third best city in U.S. to retire; St. Petersburg is 23rd

Tampa ranked third best city in U.S. to retire; St. Petersburg is 23rd

Tampa Bay has been named one of the best places for people to retire in the United States, according to a new ranking by credit-monitoring website WalletHub .The financial advice website released its ranking after comparing data collected from more ...
Updated: 23 minutes ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from the Rays’ 4-1 loss to the Yankees

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from the Rays’ 4-1 loss to the Yankees

1. Jalen Beeks doesn't have much margin for error. As billed, Beeks doesn't have overpowering stuff. Thus, he relies on mixing his pitches and sequencing them to his advantage, but he also has to throw them where he aims them.2. RHP Hunter Wood is in...
Updated: 25 minutes ago
Veteran Hernando politicians take oversized contributions, run afoul of campaign finance laws

Veteran Hernando politicians take oversized contributions, run afoul of campaign finance laws

BROOKSVILLE — With primary Election Day at the doorstep, two Republican candidates vying for seats on the Hernando County Commission found themselves in uncomfortable spots over potential filings with the Florida Commission on Ethics.And a third Repu...
Updated: 26 minutes ago
Q&A: A Watergate trickster talks dirty politics, then and now

Q&A: A Watergate trickster talks dirty politics, then and now

CLEARWATERNearly half a century ago, Martin Kelly made the mistake of his life.He was a senior at the University of Miami when he decided to take part in what would become one of the most infamous political scandals in U.S. history: Watergate. He was...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Charlie Strong: Decision on USF starting QB must come soon

Charlie Strong: Decision on USF starting QB must come soon

For a few days now, we've speculated USF coaches are close to settling — or at least narrowing — their three-player quarterback derby.On Wednesday morning, Charlie Strong suggested that's the case.Speaking to WDAE radio morning ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Report card on ousted Hernando schools superintendent shows little change from last year

Report card on ousted Hernando schools superintendent shows little change from last year

BROOKSVILLE — Two months after firing superintendent Lori Romano, the Hernando County School Board on Tuesday reviewed results of a second district-wide survey to evaluate her performance, finding that little changed from last year.Romano’s overall a...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Is the future of department stores off-price? Macy’s Backstage opens in Tampa

Is the future of department stores off-price? Macy’s Backstage opens in Tampa

TAMPA — Kishia Gainey pushes a blue shopping cart while eyeing a wall of shoes.The mother of four is back-to-school shopping at a Ross Dress for Less in a Citrus Park plaza. She’s already nabbed a pair of D.C. brand sneakers for her teen son that are...
Updated: 1 hour ago