OLDSMAR — City leaders have decided to keep Oldsmar's property tax rate the same as it's been for the last five years.
In recent planning sessions, officials had discussed the possibility of raising the tax rate.
"I'm glad we're not going that route," Mayor Jim Ronecker said at a City Council meeting Tuesday night. "We're not losing services, we're not shutting parks, we're not feeling a lot of the pain that a lot of other cities are."
The city named for Ransom E. Olds, the creator of the Oldsmobile, even has the money to buy something special: a working replica of a 1902 Oldsmobile, which it will pair up with a replica of a 1901 Oldsmobile acquired nine years ago. Both cars will be displayed at City Hall and will be used for city parades and events.
On Tuesday, the City Council set the tax rate at $4.05 per $1,000 of taxable property value. At that rate, the owner of a $150,000 home with a $50,000 homestead exemption would pay $405 in city property taxes. The tax rate could be lowered, but not raised, between now and final city budget approval in September.
Overall property values in Oldsmar dropped 2 percent in the past year, meaning the same tax rate will bring the city slightly less money. "I think that's manageable in the upcoming budget year," City Manager Bruce Haddock said.
An old Oldsmobile
In 2003, the city spent $14,000 to buy an antique replica of a 1901 Oldsmobile, a reproduction of the Curved Dash model that helped make Olds a success. The car the city bought was built from a kit more than 60 years ago. It has a single-cylinder gas-powered engine, a chain drive and a tiller rod instead of a steering wheel. Today it's in City Hall, surrounded by velvet ropes.
On Tuesday night, the City Council voted to spend $4,000 to buy a 1960s replica of a 1902 Curved Dash Oldsmobile. At that price, council members considered it a good deal.
The city bought the vehicle from Matt Pippin, a Clearwater resident who restores cars as a hobby.
"I'm always buying cars and fixing them up," said Pippin, who found the Oldsmobile replica for sale online. "I thought it would be something interesting to mess with. I stripped it down and totally restored it."
Jeri Antozzi, president of the Oldsmar Historical Society, told the council she was in favor of purchasing the car. "I think it'd be an asset for the city," she said.
The vehicle came with a half-gallon gas tank, so Pippin put a two-gallon tank on it instead. Its transmission has two settings: forward and reverse.
"It's a good-running vehicle," Pippin said. He added that the car's five-horsepower engine can get it going up to 40 mph, although that speed is "a little scary."
Mike Brassfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4151. Send letters to the editor at tampabay.com/letters.