Monday, April 23, 2018
News Roundup

Pinellas rejects some tax hikes, but residents will likely pay more

Pinellas County commissioners on Tuesday rejected two proposed tax rate increases, but residents should still expect a larger bill from the county next year.

In his initial budget proposal, County Administrator Bob LaSala suggested three different tax hikes: one to cover budget shortfalls for the next two years, one to pay for rising emergency medical services costs, and one to raise money for a rainy day fund. At their meeting Tuesday, commissioners told LaSala to forget the last two, saying they could not hit taxpayers with that many increases in one year.

"Now is not the right time," said Commissioner Karen Seel, who, along with several other commissioners, said that while it would be a "wise move" for the county to build its reserve fund, they would not support a tax increase to pay for it. To cover the shortfall in the EMS fund, they agreed to dip into reserves.

Though two rate hikes have been taken off the table, if the commission approves LaSala's budget, the average Pinellas County resident should expect to pay roughly $100 more next year in taxes and fees, not including any increase due to rising property values.

The commission is likely to approve a 5 percent tax rate increase to cover a budget shortfall and give county employees a nearly 3 percent raise. For an average homeowner whose property is valued at $100,000 with exemptions included, it would mean paying an additional $26.50 next year.

On top of that, faced with new federal regulations, the board is expected to approve a storm-water fee for unincorporated areas of the county that would take effect next fiscal year. Property owners would be charged based on how much of their land is considered nonpermeable, such as driveways and homes.

The average Pinellas home­owner would be charged $70 a year, according to Eric Naughton, the county's budget director. People with large properties could pay as much as $267 annually.

Water and sewer rates also are scheduled to increase next year. A typical customer's water bill will likely go up $1 a month, and their sewer bill will go up $2 a month.

Hanging over the discussions Tuesday was the likelihood that the commission will ask voters in 2014 for a 1-cent sales tax to pay for mass transit improvements. Agreeing to all of LaSala's proposed tax increases could put that referendum in peril, some commissioners think.

"It's certainly on my mind and I think on everybody else's," Commissioner Susan Latvala said. "That is so key to the future of this county."

Along with giving employees pay raises, LaSala's budget would allow some county departments and the Sheriff's Office to hire more employees. After cutting nearly 1,700 positions in the past few years, the county hopes to add about 50, most of them in the Department of Environment and Infrastructure, which is in charge of complying with the new stormwater regulations. The budget also includes 4 percent raises for sheriff employees.

LaSala also has proposed another $5.5 million in one-time expenses, which would likely come out of reserves, commissioners agreed Tuesday.

Anna M. Phillips can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8779.

Comments
Former Rays pitcher Danny Farquhar “progressing well’ after surgery

Former Rays pitcher Danny Farquhar “progressing well’ after surgery

As former teammates with the Rays and throughout baseball share thoughts and prayers, RHP Danny Farquhar is "progressing well" in a Chicago hospital after suffering a hemorrhage caused by a brain aneurysm on Friday.The White Sox on Monday released th...
Updated: 3 hours ago

High school scoreboard for April 23

Monday’s scoreboardBaseballCanterbury 10, Citrus Park Christian 0Northeast 12, Countryside 5
Updated: 3 hours ago
Man faces first-degree murder charge in 2017 death of woman

Man faces first-degree murder charge in 2017 death of woman

TAMPA — A 68-year-old man was arrested Monday on a first-degree murder charge, according to Tampa police.Officers took James Leon Jackson into custody at 2712 W Nassau St. in west Tampa at about 1 p.m. A warrant for his arrest had been issued Friday....
Updated: 4 hours ago
A new museum will honor America’s lynching victims, including those killed in Tampa Bay

A new museum will honor America’s lynching victims, including those killed in Tampa Bay

In May 1914, a Hernando County grand jury decided not to indict John Davis, a black man accused of attempting to assault a white woman in a hotel. But days after he was released from the Citrus County jail, Davis’s body was found beaten with a ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Alex Cobb and Logan Morrison have ex-Ray vision. Here’s what they see.

Alex Cobb and Logan Morrison have ex-Ray vision. Here’s what they see.

ST. PETERSBURG — Absolutely, Alex Cobb was saying over the phone, it's going to be weird pitching Tuesday against the Rays.The organization that he owes so much for rearing him since high school, standing by him through assorted injuries, enabl...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Lottery resultsNumbers drawn after 9 p.m. are no longer available by our deadlines. For results, go to tampabay.com/lottery.Pick 2, 3, 4, 5Mon., April 23, midday:40 874 5140e_SRit69262Mon., April 23, evening:76 974 2849e_SRit78236Fantasy 5Mon., April...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Waffle House slaying suspect arrested; veteran receives world’s most extensive penis transplant; more in U.S. news

Waffle House slaying suspect arrested; veteran receives world’s most extensive penis transplant; more in U.S. news

TennesseeWaffle House slaying suspect arrestedThe mentally unstable white gunman suspected of killing four people and wounding more at a diverse Nashville Waffle House was arrested near his apartment Monday, authorities said. Police and federal agent...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Armenia’s leader quits amid protests; van driver kills 10 in Toronto; more in world news

Armenia’s leader quits amid protests; van driver kills 10 in Toronto; more in world news

ArmeniaLeader quits: ‘I was wrong’Ten days of demonstrations forced the resignation Monday of the man who has led post-Soviet Armenia since 2008. The unexpected resignation prompted the jubilation of tens of thousands in capital Yerevan’s Republic Sq...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Deputies find parents who fled with newborn; 1-month-old is safe

Deputies find parents who fled with newborn; 1-month-old is safe

TAMPA — The 1-month-old infant reported missing Monday was found hours later about 300 miles north in Quincy, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.Sage Cooper was reported to be unharmed, officials said, and Gadsden County sheriff’s ...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Saudi-led airstrike at Yemen wedding killed at least 20

SANAA, Yemen — An airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition hit a wedding party in northern Yemen, killing at least 20 people including the bride, health officials said Monday, as harrowing images emerged on social media of the deadly bombing, the third t...
Updated: 6 hours ago