Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Largo starts process of combing through budget for cuts

LARGO — It's about to get a little uncomfortable around City Hall.

Starting Tuesday, the City Commission will begin the monthslong process of deciding what to cut for the 2013 budget to deal with falling property values without imposing a big tax hike.

City administrators have identified about 24 full-time equivalent positions the city might cut next year, bringing about $2.8 million in savings.

Some of those positions are vacant, but 11 are filled by people who will lose their jobs unless city commissioners make changes before September. Some of the 11 will watch Tuesday night and through the summer as commissioners decide who stays and who goes.

"It's certainly not the best situation for anybody," said Assistant City Manager Henry Schubert.

The city staff has dropped from 938 full-time equivalent jobs in 2007 to 875 in 2012. If the commission approves management's recommendations, that number would drop to 853 next year.

"Most employees have been pretty good about it," Schubert said. "They understand the situation."

Commissioners will almost certainly make changes. A few have already spotted a line item they might vote to nix, such as $75,000 to be spent on $125 gift cards for city employees in lieu of raises.

"That's somebody's job," said Commissioner Bob Murray of the $75,000. "I don't think there's a city employee who wouldn't agree keeping a person's job is more important than gift cards."

All seven commissioners will get a chance to weigh in on the proposed cuts at Tuesday's meeting. City management released the proposals last week, and the commission will decide Tuesday which cuts to keep on City Manager Mac Craig's proposed budget, which will be released by July 1.

Even then, though, nothing is final until the commission approves a budget in September. The 2013 budget goes into effect Oct. 1.

Largo police Chief John Carroll has asked commissioners to reconsider the reductions proposed for his agency. Carroll has six officer positions vacant. He'd like to fill three of them, but city management has recommended keeping the spots vacant for another year.

Commissioner Curtis Holmes thinks Largo should be increasing the police budget, not cutting it.

"I'm almost to the Nikita Khrushchev point of banging my shoe on the dais about it," said Holmes, invoking the image of the former Soviet leader. "That's absurd to me."

Murray and Mayor Pat Gerard weren't as emphatic as Holmes, but both said they didn't like the proposed police cuts.

Also on the chopping block are seven groundskeeping positions, five of which are filled. Those jobs would be outsourced.

City management also recommended Recreation, Parks and Arts fee increases that would bring an estimated $101,200 in additional revenue next year. Among the fee hikes: Cultural center event ticket prices would go up $1 and summer camp weekly fees would go up $3 per family.

Joan Byrne, director of the Recreation, Parks and Arts department, called all the fee increases reasonable but acknowledged she has concerns.

"I'm worried that we're getting too expensive, just in general," she said. "But everyone is out looking for more money."

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

Largo starts process of combing through budget for cuts 05/12/12 [Last modified: Saturday, May 12, 2012 4:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Protectors of Confederate statue readied for a battle that never materialized

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — Big Dixie flags were waving. County employees had erected a barrier around the Confederate soldier statue at Main and Broad streets. Roads and parking areas were blocked off. Uniformed local officers and federal law enforcement patrolled.

    Police tape and barricades surround the Confederate statue in Brooksville.
  2. Manhattan Casino choice causes political headache for Kriseman


    ST. PETERSBURG — Days before the mayoral primary, Mayor Rick Kriseman's decision to let a Floribbean restaurant open in Midtown's historic Manhattan Casino has caused political angst within the voting bloc he can least afford to lose: the black community.

    Last week Mayor Rick Kriseman chose a Floribbean restaurant concept to fill Midtown's historic Manhattan Casino. But that decision, made days before next week's mayoral primary, has turned into a political headache for the mayor. Many residents want to see the building's next tenant better reflect its cultural significance in the black community. [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]
  3. FSU-Bama 'almost feels like a national championship game Week 1'


    The buzz is continuing to build for next Saturday's blockbuster showdown between No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Florida State.

  4. Plan a fall vacation at Disney, Universal, Busch Gardens when crowds are light


    Now that the busy summer vacation season is ending, Floridians can come out to play.

    Maria Reyna, 8, of Corpus Cristi, TX. eats chicken at the Lotus Blossom Cafe at the Chinese pavilion at Epcot in Orlando, Fla. on Thursday, August 17, 2017.  Epcot is celebrating it's 35th year as the upcoming Food and Wine Festival kicks off once again.
  5. USF spends $1.5 million to address growing demand for student counseling


    TAMPA — As Florida's universities stare down a mental health epidemic, the University of South Florida has crafted a plan it hopes will reach all students, from the one in crisis to the one who doesn't know he could use some help.

    A student crosses the University of South Florida campus in Tampa, where visits to the school's crisis center more than doubled last year, part of a spike in demand that has affected colleges across the country. The university is addressing the issue this year with $1.5 million for more "wellness coaches," counselors, online programs and staff training. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]