Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

New St. Petersburg budget cuts 51 jobs, $2M

ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Baker proposed eliminating 51 jobs and nearly $2-million in city services from next year's budget Tuesday, citing the impact of statewide property tax cuts on city revenue.

The layoffs and budget reductions will affect every city department, including the library system, recreation departments and mayor's office.

But despite complaints from city officials that Amendment 1 would further cripple local government after last year's state mandated property tax reductions, Baker said the more austere budget would likely have little to no impact on services.

Not one city employee will be fired. At least 32 of the eliminated positions were already vacant, and the remaining 19 employees are expected to either retire or be placed in new jobs.

Overall, the proposed $591-million budget actually grew by $2-million from this year as a result of increased costs for fuel and other expenses.

And the budget includes nearly $700,000 in new dollars for cultural organizations, tax exemptions for small business owners and funding for Pinellas Hope, a tent city operated by Catholic Charities, Diocese of St. Petersburg.

"We are always trying to maintain the same levels of service or do better," said Baker. "We are doing everything we can to make that happen."

The city kept its property tax rate at $5.9125 for every $1,000 dollars of taxable assessed value.

City officials said they managed to avoid massive budget cuts or increased property taxes by planning ahead.

Since Baker took office, more than 132 government jobs have been eliminated. The additional 51 eliminated positions brings the city's total annual work force savings to nearly $10-million, or about $2-million more than St. Petersburg's $7.6-million expected loss in property taxes next year because of Amendment 1.

"This government is in a very fortunate position and managed to prepare itself for Amendment 1," said Mike Connors, the internal services administrator.

Among Baker's new proposals is one to do away with a tax on small businesses. Eliminating the employee tax for businesses with 30 or fewer employees would help 4,700 local businesses, Baker said, saving each between $12 and $360 a year, depending on the number of employees ($12 per employee).

The exemption will cost the city $240,000, but Baker said he was more interested in sending a message to small business owners.

"Small businesses are hurting," he said. "We want them to know St. Petersburg wants them to thrive."

Baker will also set aside $100,000 for cultural grants and $295,000 for Pinellas Hope.

Among the cuts were $4,628 for weekend supervision at Fossil Park's skate park, $535,000 in subsidies for Tropicana Field, the Mahaffey Theater and Sunken Gardens, and $10,000 from the City Council's budget.

On Tuesday, some City Council members, who must approve the budget, tentatively expressed support for Baker's reductions.

"Given what we had to cut out of the budget, I think the mayor and staff have done a pretty good job of doing that as painlessly as possible," said council member Jeff Danner. "It's always tough to lose 51 positions … but this is what people wanted when they voted for Amendment 1."

The council will hold a budget workshop July 10 followed by a 6 p.m. public forum that day.

Cristina Silva can be reached at (727) 893-8846 or

New St. Petersburg budget cuts 51 jobs, $2M 06/24/08 [Last modified: Thursday, June 26, 2008 7:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. New center opens in Tampa to help those with missing, damaged limbs


    TAMPA — Justin Lansford, his service dog Gabe by his side, smiled broadly Thursday as he imagined the future of a sprawling, resource center for people who need artificial limbs and those interested in helping them.

    Justin Lansford, 27, lost his left leg above the knee in Afghanistan. He was one of dozens of people attending the opening of the Veterans International Institute of Orthotics & Prosthetics in Tampa on Thursday. [HOWARD ALTMAN   |   Staff]
  2. Still worried about family, Tampa Bay Puerto Ricans ramp up relief effort


    TAMPA — Brenda Irizarry is worried.

    Brenda Irizarry of Tampa, while agonizing over the status of family in storm-ravaged Puerto Rico, is helping lead an effort to collect and send supplies to the island. [ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times
  3. Was it a crime? 10 patients at nursing home died after Irma


    HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (AP) — A 10th elderly patient has died after being kept inside a nursing home that turned into a sweatbox when Hurricane Irma knocked out its air conditioning for three days, even though just across the street was a fully functioning and cooled hospital.

    The Rehabilitation Center of Hollywood Hills, 1200 N. 35th Ave. [EMILHY MICHOT | Miami Herald]
  4. Oh, Florida! Irma's gone, but she left behind plenty of lessons for us


    I don't want to make light of the misery and death that Hurricane Irma inflicted on Florida this month. A lot of it was ugly, and some of it was downright criminal. We saw greed and pettiness on display, and it brought illness and death.

    Tampa Bay Times staff writer Craig Pittman.
  5. 'Toxic' times: How repeal of Florida's tax on services reverberates, 30 years later

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Long before Hurricane Irma attacked Florida, the state faced a troubled fiscal future that the storm will only make worse.

    Robertson says the tax debate is now “toxic.”