Largely because of increased property values, most property owners in the Pinellas beach communities will pay higher taxes in the coming year.
Even with those higher values generating more income, some cities plan to hike tax rates to help pay for employee raises and begin major capital projects delayed during the recession and housing crisis.
Each of the beach cities will hold public hearings this month before deciding final property tax rates and budgets. Some plans could change.
Here are the highlights of the cities' 2014-2015 proposed budgets:
BELLEAIR BEACH: The rate will remain unchanged at $2.04 per $1,000 of assessed, taxable value. Collections will jump by about 6.26 percent. The city's $2.825 million budget calls for a base merit pay hike of 2 percent for employees; $751,000 in landscaping, lighting and other beautification along Gulf Boulevard; improvements to Bayside Park; and street lighting on neighborhood streets.
BELLEAIR SHORE: Residents of this tiny town of about 50 homes will see the same tax rate of $0.62 per $1,000 of assessed, taxable value. Collections will increase 7.41 percent. The town's total budget is $98,686.
GULFPORT: The preliminary budget leaves the tax rate at about $4.04 per $1,000 of assessed, taxable property value. Thanks to an increase in property values, that would mean a 6.4 percent increase in what the city raises in property taxes. The city also is increasing sanitation, water and sewer rates by 12 percent. The proposed $27.6 million budget includes $11.3 million in operating spending and $5.7 million in capital projects — including $1.8 million to repair and upgrade the sewer system, improve the city marina, beach restrooms and playgrounds, make stormwater system repairs and buy public safety vehicles. All city employees will receive a 3 percent pay hike.
INDIAN ROCKS BEACH: The current tax rate of $2 per $1,000 in assessed, taxable property value will remain unchanged for the seventh consecutive year, but will generate 6.75 percent more revenue. The city plans to spend $7.6 million next year, including a 4 percent pay hike for all employees and $1.17 million in capital projects. One of those projects includes landscaping, sidewalk and park improvements to the major intersection of Gulf Boulevard and Walsingham Road. Similar improvements will be made to the Narrows Business District. The reserve fund grew to about $3 million after the sale of the city's sewer system to Pinellas County.
INDIAN SHORES: The tax rate remains unchanged at $1.87 per $1,000 in assessed, taxable property value. With higher values, collections will increase about 7.02 percent. The town's $3.8 million budget focuses largely on employees, who will receive a 2 percent cost-of-living increase and a maximum 3 percent merit pay hike. The town will spend nearly $900,000 in beautification projects along Gulf Boulevard.
MADEIRA BEACH: Besides a new city hall, fire station and recreational complex, most property owners here will see higher tax bills in the coming year. If the current rate of $1.79 per $1,000 in assessed, taxable property value is increased to $1.99, collections will jump by about 17.6 percent. The $17.8 million budget includes pay hikes of 3 to 6 percent for employees. Planned capital projects include drainage and road improvements on Normandy Road and Boca Ciega Drive, improvements to Madeira Way and marina dock upgrades. The city is borrowing about $10 million, the first debt incurred since 1989.
NORTH REDINGTON BEACH: By leaving its current property tax rate at $0.75 per $1,000 of assessed, taxable property value, the town still expects to generate an additional $20,000 in tax revenue. Residents will also pay an additional 9 percent in sewer fees. The town's $1.6 million total budget covers a 2 percent pay hike for most employees, a 2.45 percent increase in law enforcement costs, a new air-conditioning system for town hall, new fencing at two parks and tennis court resurfacing. The town has $4.4 million in reserves.
REDINGTON BEACH: The tax rate is projected to drop slightly, from $2 per $1,000 in assessed, taxable property value to $1.94. Many property owners will still see higher bills, as collections will jump about 9 percent with higher values. The town's $1 million operating budget includes a 2.1 percent pay hike for employees. Capital projects totaling about $260,000 will include park improvements, a new shelter, fencing and adult exercise equipment.
REDINGTON SHORES: The town's property tax rate is unchanged at $2 per $1,000 in assessed, taxable property value. That will increase collections by 6.75 percent. The town's $3.5 million budget includes a 1 percent cost-of-living pay adjustment and up to 3 percent in merit raises for employees, and $564,448 in capital projects.
ST. PETE BEACH: City officials propose increasing the property tax rate about 10 percent, to $3.15 from $2.86, to help fund a $40.8 million budget. The city plans to spend $15.4 million on a long list of projects, including $7.3 million to rebuild half of Pass-a-Grille Way, $1.6 million to redesign and resurface Blind Pass Road south of 75th Avenue, and $3 million to renovate the now-empty police station as a city hall, allowing the library to move into the existing city hall. The city's general fund is loaning $1.9 million to help pay for these projects. The city also plans to hire three additional firefighter-paramedics for Pass-a-Grille. All nonfire employees will receive a 2.5 percent pay hike, while each firefighter will receive a onetime lump sum of $1,000.
SOUTH PASADENA: The property tax rate is slated to jump 19 percent, from $1.69 to $2.01 per $1,000 in assessed, taxable property value. That would raise an additional $200,000 in revenue. New spending in the $8.1 million budget calls for a 2 percent salary increase for all employees, repaving Pasadena Isle, refurbishing a fire truck and other projects.
TREASURE ISLAND: The property tax rate will remain the same at $3.34 per $1,000 of assessed, taxable value, but collections will jump by about 6.61 percent. The city expects to receive about $284,000 in extra revenue that will help pay most employees a 2 percent cost-of-living raise and up to another 2 percent in merit pay hikes. Contracts with police and fire unions are still being negotiated. The city's $21.2 million budget also covers burying utilities along a northern portion of Gulf Boulevard.