Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Largo leaders want to hold the line on city salaries, bump up tax rate in 2012

LARGO — The City Commission moved halfway toward passing the 2012 budget last week, while nixing a policy that would have given four employees pay raises, unbeknownst to commissioners.

As part of their budget-cutting efforts this year, city commissioners agreed that no city employees should get pay raises. The logic: Times are tough for everyone, so while the city cuts things like Sunday hours at the library and 23 staff positions, it shouldn't spend more on personnel.

Commissioners told city management to keep salaries for nonunion employees the same and to try to negotiate wage freezes with the unions.

But Commissioner Harriet Crozier noticed a policy in the 2012 budget documents that seemed to clash with that directive. Employees in certain positions with seven years' experience and good evaluations get their salaries bumped up to the midpoint of their pay range, provided they aren't already earning that much. Pay ranges are determined by market surveys.

Under that policy, four city employees — two in the Recreation, Parks and Arts department, one police dispatch supervisor and one solid-waste supervisor — were eligible for raises that would have cost the city $11,500 combined.

City commissioners were not happy. Every employee should be recognized, or none," Gigi Arntzen said before the commission voted 6-0 to delete the policy. (Vice Mayor Robert Murray was absent).

In other action:

• Training and travel budget. The only other major change the commission made to the budget was a $20,000 reduction to the amount city management had planned to spend on training and travel, dropping the amount to $440,400. Commissioner Mary Gray Black requested that funding cut among five motions for budget amendments; all the others failed for lack of support.

Commissioners other than Black and Curtis Holmes mostly supported the rest of the $64.8 million general fund budget.

Property taxes. Black and Holmes voted against city management's recommendation to adopt the rollback tax rate of about 4.56 mills, up from this year's rate of 4.31 mills.

The rollback rate keeps tax revenue for the city level after accounting for changing property values. With values dropping an average of 4.5 percent in Largo this year, an increase would be needed to bring in $14.4 million in ad valorem tax revenue. Largo had $14.3 million in ad valorem revenue this year; the extra money in the 2012 budget is the result of new construction and annexations.

Subsidies. Holmes argued, as he has in the past, that Largo spends too much on nonessential services.

"We're still going to subsidize a golf course. That's entertainment; that's not part of the city's bailiwick. We're still subsidizing a cultural center," he said.

The City Commission will consider in early 2012 leasing out the Largo Golf Course, which needed $200,000 in city funding in 2011 to stay solvent and will need another $150,000 next year. Mayor Pat Gerard disagreed with the rest of Holmes' complaints, though, and said she thought a majority of Largo residents agree with her.

"I've heard, 'We like what you're doing. We wish you could do it cheaper … but we don't mind paying a few extra dollars in our property tax to keep the things that we have here,' " Gerard said before voting in favor of the rate, along with Crozier, Arntzen and Woody Brown.

The City Commission will vote once more on the 2012 budget and tax rate, at its regular meeting Sept. 20, before both are finalized.

Will Hobson can be reached at (727) 445-4167 or

Largo leaders want to hold the line on city salaries, bump up tax rate in 2012 09/10/11 [Last modified: Saturday, September 10, 2011 4:31am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Two Kissimmee police officers shot to death


    KISSIMMEE — Two police officers were shot dead in Kissimmee Friday night, Orange County mayor Teresa Jacobs said.

  2. Longest home run at Trop and Erasmo Ramirez's pitching doom Rays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kevin Kiermaier returned. The problem was, so did Erasmo Ramirez.

    Seattle Mariners first baseman Yonder Alonso (10) scores on the double by Seattle Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz (23) in the first inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.
  3. 'Road to Nowhere' is back: Next phase of Suncoast Parkway coming


    Despite intense public opposition and dubious traffic projections, the Florida Department of Transportation has announced that construction of the toll road known as "Suncoast 2" is expected to start in early 2018.

    The Suncoast Parkway ends at U.S. 98 just south of Citrus County. For years residents have opposed extending the toll road, a project dubbed the "Suncoast 2" into Citrus County. But state officials recently announced that the Suncoast 2 should start construction in early 2018. [Stephen J. Coddington  |  TIMES]
  4. Jameis Winston's hardest lesson: He can't always save the day


    TAMPA — Ever wonder what in the world goes through Jameis Winston's mind when he tries to fit the ball in a keyhole as he is being dragged to the turf like he was during Thursday night's 12-8 preseason win over the Jaguars?

    Jameis Winston, left, tries to hang on to the ball as Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler tries to strip it from him.
  5. Despite pain, woman in court faces ex-boyfriend who lit her on fire



    Sheron Pasco sat in the wheelchair as her mother pushed it toward the man in the orange jail suit.

    Sheron Pasco, 39, relies on the help of her mother, Tranda Webb, 62, as she recovers from the burns covering her body.