Thursday, January 18, 2018
News Roundup

Hillsborough commission again approves token tax rate cut

TAMPA — Using the savings from a property tax rate cut approved Wednesday by Hillsborough County commissioners, the typical homeowner would be lucky to score a pack of Ramen noodles — on sale.

Commissioners once again took that symbolic step in tentatively approving a slight reduction to the tax rate for next year so they can say they've lowered the rate for 21 years in a row.

How slight? Less that one-fifth of a penny in assessments for every $1,000 of taxable value.

Democratic Commissioner Les Miller, as in each of his three years on the County Commission, was the lone no in a 6-1 vote during Wednesday's budget reconciliation meeting. He has essentially argued the savings are so small for individuals as to barely even qualify as symbolic. He offered no remarks, simply summoning budget chief Tom Fesler to the lectern to underscore that the savings add up to less than a dollar.

Officially, the county set the tax rate at $10.75 for every $1,000 of taxable assessed value for property in unincorporated areas. Based on the fraction of a penny shaved, the owner of a home valued at $165,000 who declares a $50,000 homestead exemption will save 18 cents if that home's value stays the same.

Commissioners began consistently lowering the tax rate in the early 1990s and commissioners elected since have been loath to abandon the gesture. As property values began falling in the mid-to-late 2000s, the rate cuts became smaller but have persisted. Because property values are generally rising again, the rate cut is so slight as to qualify as a tax increase as the state Legislature has defined it. That's because savings from the rate cut will not offset the rises in actual tax bills caused by higher property values.

So far, the county's budget, shaped in part by property taxes, includes the first raises for county employees in several years. Additionally, commissioners tentatively agreed to spend another nearly $20 million on roadway and stormwater maintenance that has been deferred in recent years.

They also plan to set aside an additional $700,000 to create programs for seniors that encourage healthy activities.

A public hearing on the budget is set for Sept. 12.

Comments
Joe Henderson: Leaders can’t job-out responsibility for bad substitute teachers

Joe Henderson: Leaders can’t job-out responsibility for bad substitute teachers

Sometimes, people in authority need a reality check before they can recognize a problem that should have been obvious. In this case, it took a meticulously reported story last Sunday by education writer Marlene Sokol of the Tampa Bay Times to alert ...
Updated: 18 minutes ago
Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

The Florida Legislature’s abrupt move to strip the University of South Florida St. Petersburg of its hard-earned separate accreditation and transform it back into a satellite of the major research university lacks detail and an appreciation for histo...
Updated: 26 minutes ago
DUI arrest: Tampa man mistakes bank drive-thru for Taco Bell

DUI arrest: Tampa man mistakes bank drive-thru for Taco Bell

SPRING HILL — A 38-year-old Tampa man was arrested Wednesday on a charge of driving under the influence involving drugs or alcohol after deputies said he mistook a Bank of America drive-thru for a Taco Bell.The branch manager of the Mariner Boulevard...
Updated: 30 minutes ago
East Hillsborough strawberry farmer: ‘I was a kid the last time I saw this much ice’

East Hillsborough strawberry farmer: ‘I was a kid the last time I saw this much ice’

DOVER — Matt Parke grew up on his family’s strawberry farm, so he’s spent many nights watching as whirring sprinklers coated the crop with a protective layer of ice.Thursday’s cold snap stands out in the 34-year-old old farmer’s memory."I was a kid t...
Updated: 1 hour ago

More than 400 apply to Pasco technical high school

School choice for 2018-19 is in full swing, and district officials said they’ve been pleased with the interest they’ve seen so far.The window for applying to the district’s magnet schools closed Jan. 12, except for applications for the new Wendell Kr...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Crystal Lagoon planners brace for chilly ribbon cutting today(w/video)

Crystal Lagoon planners brace for chilly ribbon cutting today(w/video)

WESLEY CHAPEL — Mother Nature seems to have a way of putting a chill on one of the hottest amenities in residential real estate development.Members of the business community, elected officials and executives with Metro Development Group and Crystal L...
Updated: 1 hour ago
St. Pete police presence at MLK Day after-party raises concerns

St. Pete police presence at MLK Day after-party raises concerns

ST. PETERSBURG— Several people have complained about police patrols around the celebration in Midtown that follows the city’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade, questioning whether a robust law enforcement presence this year was racially m...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Updated: 2 hours ago
Record-breaking cold sends arctic blast through Tampa Bay

Record-breaking cold sends arctic blast through Tampa Bay

It was record-breaking cold this morning as a deep freeze cast over Tampa Bay.Wind-chill advisories are out as feels-like temperatures sit between a bitter 20 and 30 degrees.Tampa tied its recorded for the lowest temperature of 29 degrees on Jan. 18,...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Goodman: We can no longer be silent about immigration reform

Goodman: We can no longer be silent about immigration reform

It is one of those times when we won’t have to wait for the judgment of history to learn the verdict of history.More than 800,000 DACA immigrants now sit, stew and wonder if the land they long yearned for is the great nation they long dreamt about.Th...
Updated: 2 hours ago