NEW PORT RICHEY — A slightly lower tax rate and fewer city employees.
That's the abbreviated version of the proposed $40.3-million spending plan that New Port Richey administrators presented to the City Council on Tuesday night.
The proposed budget calls for a tax rate of 6.7 mills, about 0.08 lower than the rate used in the current fiscal year. Overall spending is down 8 percent from the current fiscal year. City Manager Tom O'Neill attributes the decrease to reductions in staff, liability and property insurance, capital construction costs and allocations to the reserve funds.
No city workers are losing their jobs, but officials have decided against filling a number of positions left open because of retirements and resignations.
Those include some supervisory positions in the police and fire departments as well as positions in the library and the parks and recreation, public works and redevelopment departments.
Attrition will only work for so long, though, said O'Neill. He told the council in a letter that if it decides during upcoming budget meetings to increase any services, "then the City Council will be faced with making budget cuts that will most certainly involve additional staff reductions."
Like other Pasco cities, New Port Richey saw a big drop in its tax base after tax reform legislation. New Port Richey's tax base declined to $817-million, roughly 11 percent lower than it is in the current year.
The impact of a smaller tax base and lower millage rate translates into a $723,340 decrease in general fund revenue. The tax base decrease also has implications for the redevelopment fund, which gets revenue from both the city and county: It will get $496,000 less from the city and $373,240 less from Pasco County.
The City Council will begin its discussions of the proposed plan next Tuesday.
Jodie Tillman can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6247.