OLDSMAR — City government may lay off its first employee since the economic downturn.
City Manager Bruce Haddock has recommended contracting with Pinellas County for building plan reviews and inspections. And that decision will result in the loss of the city's building codes administrator, he said.
Oldsmar has considered outsourcing for years without pulling the trigger. But the city could no longer ignore the reality that the county can provide the same service more cheaply, Haddock said.
"It's never a pleasant situation. We've, in the past few years, eliminated vacant positions," Haddock said, but "after this period of time, you kind of run out of options."
Al Braithwaite, the city's director of administrative services, said he's not sure how much the city could save by contracting with the county, because contract details haven't been nailed down. But he expects to know more later this week.
Including the proposed layoff, the city plans to lose the equivalent of 2.5 full-time jobs from its general fund, which is proposed at about $12.8 million.
The budget includes a 2 percent merit raise for nonunion workers.
Oldsmar's general fund gleans about a third of its revenue from property taxes. About half of the fund goes toward personnel costs.
Haddock also proposed maintaining the same property tax rate. That means, for the 22nd year in a row, the city will have a rate that's the same or lower than the previous year.
Braithwaite said the city's general fund reserves are sufficient to cover the city in case of an emergency. The proposed budget includes $1.2 million in "rainy day" funds. The city also has an existing unrestricted/undesignated general fund balance of about $4.7 million that can be used for any purpose, he said.
In one enterprise fund, supported mostly by charges for services, the city manager expects to expand staff by hiring five employees for the city's new reverse osmosis water treatment plant. Training for the workers is scheduled to start next March.
The total 2011-12 proposed budget, with capital expenditures wrapped in, amounts to $26.3 million. That's about $18.7 million less than this year's budget was, chiefly due to a reduction in capital projects and the expected completion of the city's new water supply project, according to Haddock's budget message.
Lorri Helfand can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4155.