Friday, December 15, 2017
News Roundup

In Pinellas, beach cities' budgets face reckoning as next fiscal year approaches

Tightly honed budgets and proposed property tax rates ranging from slight decreases to as much as a 15 percent increase will be considered in 12 beach communities this month. Here's a brief look at how some of the cities and towns are handling the next fiscal year.

St. Pete Beach

The city is facing a million-dollar shortfall largely because of growth in police and fire pension costs and is hoping that its proposed property tax rate increase won't have to last more than a year.

The City Commission recently approved new pension plans for all its employees that will sharply reduce future increases in costs.

If voters in November give the commission the power to disband the police department and switch to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office for law enforcement, the city could save millions more each year.

But because the commission can't count on that happening, it has proposed a $15.7 million budget and tax rate based on current costs.

The city's proposed tax rate of about $3.28 per $1,000 of assessed, taxable property value is about a 15 percent increase over the current $2.86.

Gulfport

The city is managing to stay status quo in its spending patterns, while giving employees a 2 percent raise.

The property tax rate will increase slightly from $4 per $1,000 of assessed, taxable property value to $4.04 but because of declining property values, will not generate any more money for the city.

Indian Rocks Beach

The property tax rate has been unchanged for six years, despite a continuing drop in property values.

Indian Shores

Indian Shores has increased its property tax rate slightly from $1.85 per $1,000 of assessed, taxable property value to $1.87 to compensate for dropping property values.

All cities and towns may reduce, but not increase, proposed property tax rates before their fiscal year begins in October.

Madeira Beach

The city trimmed its proposed budget and property tax rates, but is looking at tapping its reserves to pay for major capital improvement projects highlighted by a new city hall-fire building.

North Redington Beach

The property tax rate of $0.75 per $1,000 of assessed, taxable property value has not changed in four years. The town is giving its employees a 3 percent raise and its city clerk an 8 percent raise for taking on management of the public works department.

Treasure Island

The city managed to cut both its property tax rate (to about $3.17 per $1,000 of assessed, taxable property value) and its general fund budget (proposed at $9.775 million) by about 2 and 3 percent, respectively.

City Manager Reid Silverboard said the reductions were made possible through savings in fuel costs and general cutting.

And even with those cuts, city employees will still get raises with the amount contingent on their years of employment.

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