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Largo draws good financial report card for '09

LARGO — How did the city fare financially in 2009?

According to Largo's annual financial report published on the city's Web site Wednesday, not too badly.

While recent cuts in the city's budget are evident in the report, which was assembled by an external auditing firm, the findings show that the city is weathering the recession as well as any.

"The financial condition is in very good condition. As far as it came to our attention during the year, your system of accounting and internal controls are working very good," said accounting firm LarsonAllen partner Gil Hernandez to commissioners on Tuesday.

Some of the results of the report include:

• The city's general fund revenues remained relatively flat between 2008 and 2009, falling to $47.49 million from $47.83 million in 2008.

Auditors warned that while the drop was minor, with depressed property tax income, the city may need to make more cuts in the future.

• The city reduced its overall expenses by $1.4 million, or 2 percent, from 2008.

• Most of the taxes the city can levy, such as service charges and utility taxes, are already at the maximum allowable level, excluding its property tax rate, which was a relatively low $3.84 per thousand dollars of taxable value.

For comparison, Miami's 2009 tax rate was $8.25, St. Petersburg's was $6.40 and Clearwater's was $4.73.

• Largo's police and fire department salary and pension expenses have increased above average during the past few years.

The city's required annual public safety pension contribution increased from $1.9 million in 2008 to $2.8 million in 2009, a 44 percent increase.

• The city's golf course reported a net loss of $259,000, which was almost double the loss reported the year before. Eleven percent fewer rounds of golf were played.

• Largo's reliance on property taxes is relatively low compared with that of other cities, where property taxes often make up more than half of total revenues.

The city's property tax revenue made up 28 percent of its general fund.

• The city spent $5.9 million less than it had budgeted in its general fund in 2009.

• The city's debt has decreased steadily over the past five years, with $21 million outstanding in 2009.

Recent loans the city has taken out, such as $10 million for a new community center, are not included in this assessment.

• Despite the weakened economy, development increased in 2009 over 2008, due to several large projects, such as the Largo Medical Center redevelopment project.

• Excluding the $3.5 million land donation for the city's new community center, non-tax revenue decreased by $1.8 million.

Dominick Tao can be reached at (727) 580-2951 or dtao@sptimes.com

FAST FACTS

See the report

To view Largo's 2009 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, visit www.largo.com/egov/docs/1183744019793.htm.

Largo draws good financial report card for '09 03/13/10 [Last modified: Friday, March 12, 2010 4:10pm]

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