DADE CITY — Dade City commissioners are nearing the end of the budget season with a spending plan that hasn't changed much from City Manager Billy Poe's original proposal.
The proposed budget, which would take effect Oct. 1, keeps the tax rate at $7.10 per $1,000 in taxable property and doesn't impose any layoffs or cuts in service. While the commission majority was happy with that at Tuesday evening's budget workshop, Mayor Camille Hernandez was disappointed the plan didn't include a little more belt-tightening.
"There's been a lot of lively discussion during these workshops," Hernandez said. "I don't think it's a perfect budget until we've had more discussions about cross training employees and saving more funds."
The commission will have two public hearings — at 5 p.m. Monday and Sept. 24 — before the final vote on the budget.
Earlier this summer, Hernandez offered a couple of big ideas to cut costs: Lay off eight part-time police dispatchers and rely on the county's 911 call center instead, and charge a fee to festival organizers to help cover some of the city's costs for such events.
Neither idea gained much traction among her colleagues, though.
Then, in an attempt to demonstrate how painful any drastic cuts would be, City Commissioner Bill Dennis asked staff in July to draw up a scenario dropping the tax rate to $6 per $1,000 in taxable property. That would have meant $264,000 in cuts.
Commissioners later told Poe the exercise wouldn't be necessary — they weren't interested in such severe cuts.
Poe said the proposed budget at this point is "basically … the same budget I originally proposed." He did find some savings by delaying some street improvements, facilities costs and technology upgrades into future years.
"I commend you for the job you've done," Commissioner Jim Shive told Poe.
The budget also carries over $106,000 from this past year to raze City Hall.
"Once (finance director) Jim Class and his department are relocated to the annex, we'll begin the demolition," Dennis said.
Commissioners unanimously voted that the Chamber of Commerce and Main Street Dade City will receive their requests for $25,000 and $20,000, respectively. In addition, the Youth Council will be spared $4,500 in cuts and the city will fulfill its promises to neighborhood leaders, with over $250,000 allotted toward city park improvements.
Commissioners accepted the revised budget on Tuesday evening with one reminder from Hernandez:
Talks for the 2013-14 budget will begin as early as April, so officials have more time to consider alternatives.