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Dunedin proposes $2.6M in budget cuts

DUNEDIN — City Manager Robert DiSpirito's 2008-09 budget proposal does exactly what the City Commission has directed: It carves away $2.6-million in spending without dipping into the city's reserves or reducing services.

The city's property tax rate as well as its library and recreation center hours would stay the same, but 19 employees would lose their jobs.

A draft of the spending plan will be presented to the City Commission at three budget workshops this week, starting today. Commissioners are expected to approve a final budget in September.

As proposed, the city's operating budget would be about $60.3-million, with a capital budget of about $27.8-million, for a total of about $88.15-million. That's down nearly 11 percent from this year.

The city's tax rate would remain at 3.5597 mills. A mill equals $1 in property taxes for every $1,000 of assessed, non-exempt property value.

So a homeowner whose non-exempt assessment totals $150,000 would pay an estimated $534 in city taxes. That hypothetical tax bill does not include taxes levied by the School Board, County Commission, Southwest Florida Water Management District, Juvenile Welfare Board or other taxing authorities.

DiSpirito said the proposed budget reflects recent changes in property tax and taxable values and the downturn in the economy.

Among other things, the budget would:

• Eliminate jobs of 18 full-time city employees and one part-time employee.

• Include a 3 percent merit raise for city employees. The firefighters' union contract calls for a 4 percent merit raise.

• Reduce the amount spent on law enforcement by $185,000. City officials were able to reach this cut through negotiations with the Sheriff's Office, which has a contract to provide police service to Dunedin.

• Include rate increases, which already have been approved, of 5.5 percent for utilities and 5.6 percent for solid waste service.

Those rate increases, along with the rest of the budget, will take effect Oct. 1.

The job cuts will save the city about $851,000, DiSpirito said.

Outsourcing the city's custodial operations would eliminate eight jobs and save the city about $400,000.

Other job cuts under the proposal are a finance management analyst, a human resources risk manager, the division director for communications in the information services department, a planner in the planning and development department, two full-time and one part-time recreation positions, a streets division employee, a librarian and contract positions for a community policing officer and for a traffic control unit.

Theresa Blackwell can be reached at tblackwell@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4170.

>>If you go

Dunedin budget workshops

Where: City Hall Chambers, 542 Main St., Dunedin.

When: From 9 a.m. to noon today, the commission will discuss pay raises and then general funds for departments like finance, law enforcement, information services, human resources, planning and development, economic and housing development, fire, library, parks and recreation and public services and streets. From 9 a.m. to noon Wednesday, the commission will cover enterprise funds for water, solid waste, the marina, the golf course and more. Then it will cover internal services like the city's fleet services and the community redevelopment department. From 9 a.m. to noon Friday, the commission will discuss the capital budget for utilities and streets, the marina, parks, the stadium, fire and more. The public is welcome. Call (727) 298-3001.

Dunedin proposes $2.6M in budget cuts 07/14/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 16, 2008 7:46pm]
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