Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Kenneth City leaves plenty of wiggle room in tax rate

Mayor Teresa Zemaitis says  the tax rate likely will not top $5.20.

Mayor Teresa Zemaitis says the tax rate likely will not top $5.20.

KENNETH CITY — Property owners here who open their tax notices need to brace themselves to see a proposed 51 percent leap in the tax rate to pay for town services in the coming year.

The change would raise the rate from its current $4.76 per $1,000 of assessed, taxable value to $7.20. The effect for a $150,000 home with a $50,000 homestead exemption would be an additional $244 in property taxes for 2013-14.

But Mayor Teresa Zemaitis says taxpayers shouldn't assume that number is real. The proposed tax rate is unlikely to be the final number once the budget is finally passed in September. Under state law, governments are forbidden from increasing a proposed tax rate once the TRIM notices are sent out, creating a kind of cap. But they can lower the rate.

So the Town Council, which is embroiled in heated debate over the budget, gave itself lots of wiggle room. In reality, Zemaitis said, the final tax rate is likely to be no higher than about $5.20 per $1,000 of assessed, taxable value, a 9 percent increase over the current rate. And, it's also possible, she said, that taxpayers would see no increase.

It all depends on the Town Council, which has the final say over spending.

And while items were eliminated from the wish lists of all departments in an effort to avoid raising taxes — Zemaitis axed $4,450 for a voicestreaming system that would have allowed residents to watch council meetings live on their computers — the main council disputes seem to center on the Police Department.

That's not a surprise. The department's $1.1 million operating budget accounts for about 55 percent of the town's overall $2 million budget.

Zemaitis suggested one way to cut police costs was to leave the department's one open position unfilled. The department, she said, seems to be functioning well with 11 officers rather than the 12 allowed under the current budget. Any gaps could be filled, she said, by one of the reserve officers the chief has requested. Reserve officers include former officers who want to retain their certification so they perform police duties as volunteers.

That, she said, could save the about $55,000 in salary and benefits as well as costs of training and equipment.

But at a budget workshop Wednesday, the other four council members disagreed, saying the town needs its full contingent of 12 officers. The cost is being added back to the proposed budget.

Council members are scheduled to meet again to thrash out budget issues at 6 p.m. Aug. 28 at the Community Hall, 4600 58th St. N. The meeting is open to the public.

Anne Lindberg can be reached at or (727) 893-8450.

Kenneth City leaves plenty of wiggle room in tax rate 08/16/13 [Last modified: Friday, August 16, 2013 3:10pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Dodgers close in on World Series with 6-1 win over Cubs


    CHICAGO — Yu Darvish pitched into the seventh inning, Chris Taylor homered again and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Chicago Cubs 6-1 on Tuesday night to open a commanding 3-0 lead in the NL Championship Series.

    Los Angeles Dodgers' Chris Taylor hits a home run Tuesday during the third inning of Game 3 of baseball's National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs. [Associated Press]
  2. Peter Budaj, Lightning lose to Devils in shootout; Nikita Kucherov scores

    Lightning Strikes

    NEWARK, N.J. — For Peter Budaj, Tuesday's season debut had a shaky start.

    The Lightning’s Vladislav Namestnikov, right, battles Damon Severson for the puck.
  3. Mother's testimony about toddler's death brings judge to tears


    TAMPA — Nayashia Williams woke up early on May 7, 2014, to the sound of her daughter calling for her. It was the last time the young mother's mornings would begin with a summons from Myla Presley, who couldn't yet climb over the mesh fencing around the playpen she used as a bed.

    Deandre Gilmore looks towards the gallery Tuesday in a Tampa courtroom. Gilmore is accused of killing the 19 month-old daughter of his girlfriend in 2014. He said the child fell while he was giving her a bath. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  4. Speakers: Getting tough can't be only response to teen car thefts


    ST. PETERSBURG — Bob Dillinger remembers coming to Pinellas County as a legal intern in 1975. There were five major poverty zones in St. Petersburg.

    Wengay Newton, Florida House of Representatives (in front, in center), talks as a panelist to a packed room during a community forum on "Reclaiming our Youth: Is Juvenile Justice a Reality?" at the Dr. Carter G. Woodson Museum in St. Petersburg Wednesday evening (10/17/17). The event was presented by the Fred G. Minnis, Sr. Bar Association. Community leaders discussed the ongoing auto theft epidemic among Pinellas youth.
  5. Internal White House documents allege manufacturing decline increases abortions, infertility and spousal abuse


    White House officials working on trade policy were alarmed last month when a top adviser to President Donald Trump circulated a two-page document that alleged a weakened manufacturing sector leads to an increase in abortion, spousal abuse, divorce and infertility, two people familiar with the matter told the …