Monday, February 19, 2018
News Roundup

Kenneth City budget proposal includes raises, no tax changes

KENNETH CITY — Property owners here would get no increase in taxes under a budget proposed for the coming fiscal year — the first spending plan under the town's new style of government.

The proposal would allow Kenneth City property owners to continue paying about $4.76 per $1,000 of assessed, taxable value. That means the owner of a house valued at $150,000 with a $50,000 homestead exemption would pay about $476 in town taxes for the 2014-15 fiscal year.

Despite the steady tax rate, overall spending would rise slightly from about $2.077 million to about $2.187 million, an increase of about $109,994 or about 5.3 percent.

Kenneth City employees, some of whom have not had pay increases in nearly 10 years, would get some relief under the proposal, which would go into effect Oct. 1 if approved by the Town Council this year. The proposed increases for police and administrative employees were prompted by the results of a salary survey of employees in similar communities in Pinellas and elsewhere in Florida.

The results showed that "our employees are pretty well underpaid," Town Manager Matt Campbell said Monday. In a letter to the Town Council introducing the budget, Campbell wrote: "The resulting data has revealed that much-needed adjustments are long overdue for a majority of town employees, just to enable their salaries and benefits to be slightly under, or competitive with other similarly sized communities."

Campbell said he has also proposed a salary plan, something the town has lacked in the past. He is not proposing a raise for himself or the mayor and council members.

The proposal shows a slight decrease in spending for the Police Department, from about $1.1 million to about $961,405. That includes raises for police officers, their first in four years. It does not appear to include a salary for a police chief. That line item is blank.

The budget plan also includes a proposal from Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri for the cost of taking over the Kenneth City Police Department. Campbell said he included the information at the request of some council members who wanted it in order to help decide the future of the department. Neither Campbell nor the council could eliminate the department. That would have to be decided by a voter referendum.

Gualtieri included three possible scenarios for taking primary responsibility for Kenneth City police services. The council could adopt any of those or ask for another scenario. All three, however, show savings.

If Kenneth City wanted six full-time deputies — two per shift — the cost would be about $925,068 per year, about $174,932 less than the town is spending under the current budget.

If the town wanted three full-time deputies — one per shift — and a full-time special enforcement deputy, the cost would be about $555,501 annually, saving about $544,499.

The third scenario would give the town three full-time deputies — one per shift. The cost would be about $463,676 per year, saving about $636,324.

All sheriff's proposals include costs for vehicles, supervision, equipment and other costs.

Contact Anne Lindberg at [email protected] or (727) 893-8450. Follow @alindbergtimes.

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