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Seminole savings bolster projects

SEMINOLE — The lesson to take away when looking at the city's proposed capital improvement budget for the coming year: Save your money and you don't have to go into debt for big projects, like rebuilding fire stations.

"It sounds a little simplistic, but that's been our approach all along," City Manager Frank Edmunds said Tuesday.

Edmunds said the city has long taken money left over from its capital budget at the end of its fiscal year and put it into savings rather than buy or build something that would be nice, but unnecessary. Now, those efforts are paying off.

The city is funding its 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2012-13 capital budgets out of past savings. And, it has also been able to pay for renovations to Fire Station 31 out of savings. The city will also be able to pay for $1.4 million in renovations to Fire Station 30 during the coming fiscal year out of savings and county money.

The result is that Seminole can use property taxes and other fees to stabilize the tax rate and keep it low. Seminole has one of the lowest tax rates in Pinellas County.

Edmunds presented the capital budget to the City Council at Tuesday's meeting. The council will hold a workshop later to discuss the budget itself. He will present the operating budget in a few weeks.

The main portion of the capital budget is lean — $239,082 for items such as vehicle replacements and planning/design work for construction projects that will be paid for out of Penny for Pinellas money.

Also planned is a razing and rebuilding of Fire Station 32, at 10780 110th Ave. N.

The building was constructed in 1969 by mostly volunteer firefighters. A structural engineer has said that bringing it up to current hurricane codes would cost more than the building is worth.

Seminole has already bought two lots for the new station and a retention pond. The city has applied for federal dollars to cover the majority of the estimated $1.7 million to $2 million cost.

But Station 32 won't be immediately renovated if the city does not get a federal grant. It would have to wait until Seminole saved enough money to pay for the construction.

Edmunds said it's unclear if Seminole will receive the grant. The city lost out in the first round, so plans are in a holding pattern until Seminole finds out if it gets the funds.

Reach Anne Lindberg at alindberg@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8450 or twitter.com/alindbergtimes.

Seminole savings bolster projects 05/25/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 7:00pm]
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