Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pinellas County to hold budget hearing this week

Pinellas residents who opened their mail last month and cringed at plans to raise tax rates will have their chance to sound off at a public hearing Thursday.

The 6 p.m. meeting is the first of two public hearings on the county's proposed 2013 budget. The second is Sept. 18, the same day the County Commission will vote on the final budget. If approved, it would take effect on Oct. 1, the first day of the new fiscal year.

There are two proposed property tax rate increases on the table: one to pay off a $11.4 million bill for Medicaid costs that was handed down from Tallahassee lawmakers, and a second to pay for the county's over-budget Emergency Medical Services program.

The first would raise the property tax rate by roughly 5 percent, from $4.81 per $1,000 of taxable value, to $5.01.

In an attempt to convince taxpayers that this proposed increase is the fault of the state and not local elected officials, the County Commission printed slim blue notes tucked into the Truth in Millage notices stating exactly that.

The remainder of the county's $13.9 million budget gap for 2013 would be filled with money pulled from reserves.

To cover rising EMS costs, County Administrator Bob LaSala is proposing to raise the tax rate by nearly 8 percent, from $0.85 to $0.92.

His initial plan, which called for a 22 percent tax rate hike, was quashed after it become clear it did not have unanimous support from the commission needed to pass.

The $1.69 billion budget represents a 2.3 percent increase from 2012, a boost sufficient to cover rising fuel and health care costs, LaSala has said.

During a series of budget workshops this summer, LaSala maintained that Pinellas County could not afford another year of cuts to services. In his initial budget presentation, he said the county had reached a "tipping point" beyond which quality of life would suffer.

In early conversations, a majority of the commissioners said they would support a tax increase to pay for Medicaid. They have shown less enthusiasm for raising the EMS tax rate.

Two commissioners, Nancy Bostock and Neil Brickfield, both Republicans running for re-election, have consistently opposed plans to raise tax rates. Neither has proposed a specific alternative.

Pinellas County to hold budget hearing this week 09/04/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 4, 2012 10:18pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Largest Powerball jackpot won by single ticket in Massachusetts


    DES MOINES, Iowa - Powerball Product Group Chair Charlie McIntyre says the $758.7 million jackpot claimed by a ticket sold in Massachusetts is the largest grand prize won by a single lottery ticket in U.S. history.

    A Powerball lottery sign displays the lottery prizes at a convenience store Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017, in Northbrook, Ill. Lottery officials said the grand prize for Wednesday night's drawing has reached $700 million, the second -largest on record for any U.S. lottery game.
  2. Florida education news: Computer coding, guidance counseling, career planning and more


    SESSION STARTERS: State Sen. Jeff Brandes refiles legislation to allow Florida high school students to swap computer coding for foreign language credits.

  3. Rays morning after: Offense showing some life



  4. Protectors of Confederate statue readied for a battle that never materialized

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — Big Dixie flags were waving. County employees had erected a barrier around the Confederate soldier statue at Main and Broad streets. Roads and parking areas were blocked off. Uniformed local officers and federal law enforcement patrolled.

    Police tape and barricades surround the Confederate statue in Brooksville.
  5. Manhattan Casino choice causes political headache for Kriseman


    ST. PETERSBURG — Days before the mayoral primary, Mayor Rick Kriseman's decision to let a Floribbean restaurant open in Midtown's historic Manhattan Casino has caused political angst within the voting bloc he can least afford to lose: the black community.

    Last week Mayor Rick Kriseman chose a Floribbean restaurant concept to fill Midtown's historic Manhattan Casino. But that decision, made days before next week's mayoral primary, has turned into a political headache for the mayor. Many residents want to see the building's next tenant better reflect its cultural significance in the black community. [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]