KENNETH CITY — Council members have scheduled a workshop Tuesday afternoon to discuss the impact of declining property values on next year's budget.
Members were not planning on taking up the upcoming year's spending plan until June, but Mayor Pro Tem Teresa Zemaitis said she decided discussions should start now when she saw preliminary numbers from the Pinellas County Property Appraiser's Office that showed the town's property values had declined about 13 percent. Although property values dropped across the county, that big a drop could mean a major hit to Kenneth City's $2.2-million budget, and Zemaitis said she wants council members to start thinking now about big ways to save money.
"It's going to be hard because for so many years (the budget's) just been allowed to roll over with very minimal cuts," Zemaitis said Thursday. "We have got to get that number way, way down. It's going to take some serious work to do that."
Zemaitis has already instituted some cost-saving measures, including turning thermostats up to use less power, eliminating some cell phones and some take-home vehicles. But those measures aren't likely to make up for a big drop in property taxes. Zemaitis said everything will be on the table, including layoffs.
"I don't foresee that," she said. "I hope we could avoid that."
The meeting is at 3:30 p.m. in the Community Hall, 4600 58th St. N. Zemaitis said the afternoon was the only time all council members could meet on short notice. It will be open to the public, but, unlike most workshops Zemaitis plans, the public will not be able to speak. The council, she said, needs to start talking.