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Largo looks at $119M worth of upgrades within five years

LARGO — To get a grip on future spending, city leaders took time Tuesday to review big-ticket plans for the next five years.

The discussion was motivated by the city's five-year capital improvements program, which includes major building projects, vehicle purchases, software expenditures and maintenance projects that cost $100,000 or more. The list tops out at about $119.2 million and includes items like environmental cleanup projects and major sewer upgrades.

In fact, many of the projects are necessary to meet regulatory requirements.

About $74 million, more than 60 percent of the total, is linked to sewer projects. For sewer upgrades alone, the city expects to borrow about $55 million.

The city also expects to spend about $1 million to clean up the Largo Central Park Nature Preserve and the old Largo landfill. The former Largo landfill underlies part of the preserve, where elevated levels of arsenic and other contaminants were found several years ago.

At the work session, City Commissioner Gigi Arntzen requested an update on the preserve.

City Engineer Leland Dicus said the city met an interim deadline and submitted soil samples to the DEP this month. The city conducted initial groundwater testing, he said.

The city needs to analyze the site and come up with a cleanup plan that must then be approved by the DEP, he said. All options involve removing soil around the preserve's observation tower, which is where the highest concentrations of arsenic were found.

As for the city's golf course, it won't bring in enough to fund the course over the next several years, according to current projections. The five-year plan includes transferring $500,000 from the general fund to cover operating costs.

"That's a substantial amount of money going in there from now until (2016)," said Commissioner Curtis Holmes.

Staffers calculated the golf course plan with figures from December, an especially cold month, and since spring, the course is doing better than last year, said Amy Davis, manager of Largo's office of management and budget.

"The amount of the support will depend on how we end the year revenue-wise and expenditure-wise," Davis said.

Police Chief John Carroll also told commissioners he was looking at cutting his department's cruiser fleet from about 100 to 80.

For the 2011-2012 budget year, city staffers have proposed increasing the property tax rate to the rollback rate, which would generate about the same amount of revenue as the current rate. No utility rate increases are proposed for next year.

The capital improvements program doesn't allocate money, but it provides a planning blueprint for future years. The City Commission is scheduled to adopt the plan Tuesday.

Reach Lorri Helfand at lorri@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4155.

. Fast facts

Big-ticket items

Capital improvement projects proposed for the next five years include:

Largo landfill and Central Park Nature Preserve environmental cleanups: $1 million

Largo Municipal Complex:

• City Hall roof: $1.5 million

• Server room replacement: $2 million

• Police station reinforcement and roof: $2.2 million

Various sewer projects: $74 million

Largo looks at $119M worth of upgrades within five years 04/16/11 [Last modified: Friday, April 15, 2011 9:06pm]
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