Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Dunedin considers dipping into reserves to pay for raises, tax cuts

DUNEDIN — Citing revenue changes, the city has conceded that it will have to pull $2.1 million from its surplus reserves to help fund employee raises and a tax rate reduction next year.

Under a proposal accepted by the City Commission at a budget workshop Tuesday, next year's property tax rate would be reduced by 5 percent instead of the original recommendation of 6 percent. The move still would save taxpayers nearly $334,000.

Instead of a 3 percent salary increase, city employees would receive a combination 1 percent raise and 2 percent one-time bonus. The $174,000 worth of bonuses would come out of reserves.

Reserves would also fund a new $1.5 million fire station and $99,752 worth of other capital projects for the information technology department. Those projects include installation of a new network server, desktop computer replacement and training.

City Manager Rob DiSpirito said the new course of action was necessary to counter a number of changes that threw original budget projections out of balance.

"Several planned savings and revenue estimates have changed," DiSpirito said. "It is no longer possible to provide the original proposal without the use of these reserves."

The "most significant" change prompting his $2.1 million reserves proposal, DiSpirito said, is an "indefinite delay" in the nearly $753,000 fire pension credit the city had anticipated receiving from the state.

The city had initially used the money, which is reimbursement for extra benefits paid to firefighters since 1999, to shore up its budget. However, the funds are on hold while the state investigates claims by Dunedin's fire union that the way the city is splitting the money with firefighters is illegal.

Meanwhile, commissioners have spent months debating how to use their $7.8 million general fund reserve, which contains about $4 million more than what's required by city policy.

Policy requires that Dunedin put a portion equivalent to 15 percent of its operating budget in savings, but the city has 30 percent in reserves.

Finance director Jeff Yates told commissioners Tuesday that DiSpirito's recommendation would still leave Dunedin's reserve fund with a surplus about 5 to 6 percent above policy level.

Commissioners agreed, with little discussion, to use reserves to reduce the tax rate by 5 percent to $3.38 per $1,000 of taxable assessed value. That would mean a resident who had a $100,000 home with a $50,000 homestead exemption would see a tax bill of $169, which is $8.99 less than last year's rate.

"The reason we have the extra reserves we do is because of the taxpayer," said Commissioner Julie Ward Bujalski, adding that "we want to give some of that money that's been sitting there back to the residents."

However, commissioners split over whether to give employees, who haven't had raises in two years, salary increases of 1, 2 or 3 percent.

They ultimately decided to stick with DiSpirito's recommendation of 1 percent raises combined with one-time bonuses of 2 percent.

The $110,000 in raises would come from the operating budget.

Other changes commissioners agreed to Tuesday included:

• Restoring $29,700 to the budget, reversing an earlier proposal to reduce traffic patrol hours from 140 a week to 115.

• Eliminating $35,000 previously budgeted for an economic development employee position. The city will hire consultants on an as-needed basis.

Commissioners will have one more opportunity to tweak budget numbers at an Aug. 29 workshop.

Citizens will get a chance to weigh in at public hearings set for Sept. 8 and 22, during the city's regular commission meetings.

The City Commission will adopt the final budget at the Sept. 22 meeting.

Keyonna Summers can be reached at ksummers@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4153.

>>Fast facts

Budget talks

The following meetings will be held at Dunedin City Hall, 542 Main St.

Aug. 29, 9 a.m. to noon: Budget workshop

Sept. 8, 7 p.m.: First public hearing on budget

Sept. 22, 7 p.m.: Second public hearing and final budget adoption

Source: City of Dunedin

Dunedin considers dipping into reserves to pay for raises, tax cuts 08/09/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 9, 2011 6:55pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Halloween Horror Nights: 'The Shining,' 'Saw' and more things to give you nightmares at Universal Orlando

    Blogs

    The 27th year of Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights will scare the pants off you -- in the best possible way.

    The scare zone inspired by horror flick Trick r' Treat is one of the most beautiful at this year's Halloween Horror Nights 27.
  2. 10th resident from sweltering Hollywood nursing home dies

    Public Safety

    A 10th person from the Hollywood nursing home that turned into a deadly hothouse after the facility lost power following Hurricane Irma has died, Hollywood police said.

    The Rehabilitation Center of Hollywood Hills, 1200 N. 35th Ave. [EMILHY MICHOT | Miami Herald]
  3. Feeling mental fatigue after Hurricane Irma and other disasters? It's real.

    Consumer

    TAMPA — Blackness. Eyes closed or open, the same.

    A Tampa Bay Times reporter in a sensory deprivation tank used for floating therapy at Sacred Floats & Gems Co. located at 6719 N Nebraska Avenue, in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, September 19, 2017. Floating therapy relaxes people because they experience a sense of zero gravity when they are inside the tank, which contains 150 gallons of water and 1000 pounds of medical grade Epsom salt. ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times
  4. Trump vows more sanctions on North Korea

    World

    President Donald Trump vowed Thursday to impose more sanctions on North Korea as he prepared to meet with his counterparts from Japan and South Korea to seek a common strategy in confronting the isolated nuclear-armed state.

    U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters on Sept. 19, 2017. North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017 in New York described as "the sound of a dog barking" Trump's threat to destroy his country. [Associated Press]
  5. Tampa chamber of commerce votes against tax increase on business property

    Retail

    TAMPA — The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce on Thursday voted against supporting a city of Tampa plan to raise taxes on commercial properties in the city for 2018. The property tax, included in the city's proposed $974 million budget, would boost taxes from $5.73 to $6.33 for every $1,000 in property value.

    The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce voted against supporting a city tax hike on commercial property. Pictured is Bob Rohrlack, CEO of the chamber. | [Times file photo]