DADE CITY — Commissioners took their first steps toward approving the city's 2008-09 budget Tuesday night.
The $10.3-million budget is about $380,000 less than last year's, but residents won't feel the pinch — the city doesn't plan to cut services or raise taxes.
In preparing the budget draft, the city kept the millage rate at 7.10 mills.
A mill produces $1 in tax for every $1,000 in taxable property value. At 7.10 mills, a person whose home is assessed at $150,000, minus the $50,000 homestead exemption, would pay $710 in city taxes.
At City Hall, however, it's going to be tight.
The commissioners' travel budget was knocked down from $4,000 to $3,000. Five city positions, four of which were vacant, were cut. Remaining employees shouldn't expect raises.
During last year's budget season, Commissioner Steve Van Gorden fought for a 3 percent raise for city employees. At the time, they were only budgeted for a 2 percent bump.
Van Gorden was absent Tuesday night. He and Commissioner Eunice Penix were at an activity for Leadership Pasco, an organization for county leaders.
Commissioner Curtis Beebe praised the efforts of city staff, which had to make cuts in almost every department.
"It was a lot of work, and I appreciate it," he said. "I am sure the folks paying the taxes appreciate it, too."
The city will approve the budget at a meeting Sept. 22.
In other news:
• Commissioners again grappled with the wording of an ordinance amendment that would eliminate fee exemptions and standing reservations at city park and recreation facilities.
• Several groups that use the American Legion Hall for free told the city that they'd like to continue hosting meetings or regular events at the building.
Commissioners worried about the costs of keeping up the facilities without charging a fee.
"There's no shortage of good causes out there who would like to use this building," Mayor Scott Black said. "When we're flush with money, we can come back and re-examine it."
The commission postponed making a decision on the amendment until the next meeting, when all commissioners will be present.
Helen Anne Travis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 435-7312.