Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Brooksville council considers options to cut $405,000 from its budget

BROOKSVILLE — Facing a $405,000 budget shortfall, Brooksville City Council members are looking at several cost-saving proposals they hope will help the city avoid having to increase its property tax rate.

In the budget summary presented at a council workshop last week, City Manager Jennene Norman-Vacha outlined the grim challenges. For the fourth year in a row, the city will see property tax revenues shrink because of falling property values.

The estimated 2011-12 budget of $7,428,799 includes no provisions for capital improvements or outlay. But Norman-Vacha warned that simple belt-tightening and further staff layoffs would only diminish city services to the point where taxpayers would suffer.

Council members agreed to look at several measures they hope will be enough to balance the budget and still maintain acceptable service levels.

From shortening shift times for firefighters to the elimination of fee waivers for events and fairs to closing the Quarry Golf Course, and even a modest increase in the property tax rate — all ideas are on the table, said council member Joe Bernardini.

"We're at a point where we're facing some hard facts," Bernardini said. "Just about every idea is worth looking at right now."

Perhaps the most sweeping proposal came from council member Lara Bradburn, who suggested that staffers look into firefighters switching to shorter shifts.

Firefighters currently work 24-hour shifts, then have 48 hours off before reporting back to work. Bradburn suggested that by switching to 12-hour shifts, fewer people would be needed during night hours when call loads drop.

"I don't think you would see a falloff in service because the bulk of the calls the department makes are during the day," Bradburn said. "Right now, we're paying people to sleep."

Bradburn also said the city needs to more closely examine its expenses for firefighters' pensions, which have increased by nearly 58 percent in recent years, from $123,063 during the 2006-07 budget year to $215,065 this year.

"The city pays 31 percent into their retirement fund and only 16 percent to other employees," Bradburn said. "There has to be a better alternative."

Bernardini proposed looking at other cost-cutting measures, including shelving the current agreement with the Hogan Law Firm, which earns a minimum of $157,500 a year for its work with the city.

Bernardini believes the city could find someone to do the job more cheaply.

"It's nice to have a Cadillac, but sometimes you've got to drive a Volkswagen," he said.

Bernardini also acknowledged that upping the tentative tax rate above the current 6.37 mills would provide some cushion in case other cuts aren't enough.

Bernardini said that a modest rate tax increase, coupled with additional cost reductions, would be the most palatable alternative, because many property owners would still pay less than last year because of decreased property values.

"It may not be the ultimate solution," he said, "but it's at least worth looking into."

The budget will be subject to two public hearings before the council approves it. The new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

Logan Neill can be reached at or (352) 848-1435.

Brooksville council considers options to cut $405,000 from its budget 07/29/11 [Last modified: Friday, July 29, 2011 8:32pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Prosecutors tried to delay a trial because of the eclipse. Florida judge cited 'Star Trek' in ruling


    The wheels of justice may grind slowly, but they cannot be stopped by Monday's total eclipse, a judge has ruled.

    Schweta Kulkarni, from left, Rhea Kulkarni and Saanvi Kulkarni, from Seattle, try out their eclipse glasses on the sun at a gathering of eclipse viewers in Salem, Ore., early Monday, Aug. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Don Ryan) ORDR102
  2. Top 5 at Noon: Mayoral race affects ballpark decision; stream the eclipse live


    Here are the latest headlines and updates on

    Looking east at Tropicana Field and downtown St. Petersburg.  SCOTT KEELER    |    Times

  3. Full disclosure: My AP Top 25 ballot


    Now that you've seen the preseason AP Top 25, here's what I submitted in my first year as a voter. The AP doesn't give us many guidelines in the preseason. I didn't try to predict how …

  4. AP Top 25: Alabama first, FSU, UF, Miami and USF all in top 20


    As expected, Alabama will start the season at No. 1 in the AP Top 25.

  5. Hollywood lost a serious filmmaker in Jerry Lewis


    The day the clown died, Hollywood lost a serious filmmaker in Jerry Lewis.

    Jerry Lewis in 2005. Lewis, the comedian and filmmaker who was adored by many, disdained by others, but unquestionably a defining figure of American entertainment in the 20th century, died on the morning of Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017, at his home in Las Vegas. He was 91 (New York Times)