Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Largo commissioners nix staff's suggestion to cut police positions

LARGO — City staff has spent months combing through the proposed 2013 budget, looking for spots to trim $2.8 million, which they hope will prevent them from needing a big tax hike to deal with falling property values.

They identified 24 full-time equivalent positions that could be cut, and presented their recommendations to the City Commission last week.

After hearing from commissioners, they've got more work to do.

Commissioners told staff to forget about "unfunding" three police officer positions, a type of budget cut that Assistant City Manager Henry Schubert explained is temporary.

"Unfunded or eliminated, the result is the same, there are three less police officers on the street, and I don't like that," Mayor Pat Gerard said at last week's commission meeting.

The three officer positions were part of $483,400 in proposed cuts to the Police Department — more than any other department. Recreation, Parks & Arts was second, with $437,500, but Commissioner Curtis Holmes pointed out that included in those savings was $101,200 in additional revenue from increased rates and ticket prices.

Commissioners also told staff to nix $125 gift cards for all employees, a planned holiday gift in lieu of raises. No city employee has gotten a raise in two years and many have gone three years without a raise. The gift card expenditure totaled $75,000, which several commissioners pointed out could save a few of the jobs on the chopping block.

There are still a few variables that could change how much staff needs to cut in general-fund spending. The Pinellas County Property Appraiser's Office will release estimated value changes in June, Schubert said. If values are higher than anticipated, the city won't need to cut as much.

Schubert is also waiting to find out how much employees' health insurance coverage will increase next year. He expects to get a quote in June, he told commissioners.

Commissioner Michael Smith wondered why travel and training expenses for city staff weren't included on the list of potential savings. The city plans to spend about $246,000 in travel and training, only $35,900 of which is required for certain certifications and licenses. Smith suggested cutting $50,000 from the cost of training that isn't required.

City Manager Mac Craig said that would be a bad idea.

"It's needed to keep people here," Craig said. "If we can't do travel and training to improve what they (employees) do, they're not going to stay here."

Gerard agreed that staff should take a second look at those expenses before the next budget discussion. Craig will release his proposed budget in July, and the commission will discuss it several times before voting on it in September. The new fiscal year starts Oct. 1.

Commissioner Woody Brown brought a moment of levity to the budget chat when he asked about the $25 Publix gift cards the city usually gives its employees every year. Publix charges Largo full price for the cards. Brown, a chiropractor, asked why the city couldn't shop around for a discount.

"If I was giving 800 $25 gift certificates to my business, I'd cut you a deal," he said, before realizing someone might misinterpret his hypothetical as a suggestion.

"I'm not proposing that … I couldn't handle that," Brown said, as the other commissioners laughed.

"I could use a massage," Gerard said.

Schubert said he'd look into it.

Will Hobson can be reached at (727) 445-4167 or To write a letter to the editor, go to

Largo commissioners nix staff's suggestion to cut police positions 05/22/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 22, 2012 4:53pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Winner and loser of the week in Florida politics


    Winner of the week 1: 'Liquor wall’ proponents. Gov. Rick Scott’s veto of a bill to allow Walmart, Target and other big box stores to sell liquor was a victory for an array of groups, from smaller merchants and Publix (which has stand-alone booze shops near its stores) to those who feel the hard stuff …

  2. Review / photos: Sunset Music Festival brings Major Lazer, safety upgrades to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa


    Somewhere beyond the barricades and mountainous LED stages of the Sunset Music Festival, there had to be worry. There had to thousands of parents in parking lots and empty kitchens, anxiously distracting their minds, every now and then checking their phones.

    Major Lazer headlined the Sunset Music Festival on May 27, 2017 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
  3. 24-year-old man charged with murder in shooting at Andrea Cove Motel

    LARGO — Pinellas sheriff's officers arrested a 24-year-old transient man Saturday in connection with a homicide at the Andrea Cove Motel in unincorporated Largo.

  4. Photo gallery: Calvary Christian rolls to state title


    View a gallery of images from Calvary Christian's defeat of Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium in Ft. Myers for the Class 4A title.

    Calvary Christian players circle up on the field before the FHSAA class 4A baseball championship against Pensacola Catholic on Friday May 27, 2017 at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla. Calvary scored 6 runs in the first inning, and had 7 hits.
  5. Two girls found safe after being reported missing in New Port Richey

    UPDATE: Both girls were found safe Saturday night, police said.