SEMINOLE — City spending will go down next year under the proposed 2008-09 budget provided to council members this week, but the tax rate will remain the same.
The proposal shows nearly a 7 percent decrease in Seminole's operating budget, taking it from the current $17.9-million to $16.7-million. The total proposed reduction in spending is about $1.2-million.
The city's proposed tax rate of 2.4793 mills is unchanged.
Seminole's budget is a far cry from that of neighboring Pinellas Park, where a first-draft of the coming year's spending plan shows an increase in spending and in the tax rate. That city also plans to dip into its reserves to balance its 2008-09 budget.
Pinellas Park's current budget shows operating expenses of about $49.7-million. The expected operating expenses for the upcoming fiscal year are about $50.8-million. The current tax rate is 4.5478 mills. The proposed 2008-09 tax rate for Pinellas Park is 4.6135 mills.
Seminole's drop in spending comes from the elimination of 14 jobs, which includes firefighters, administrative personnel, a building inspector and a mechanic.
Seven of the jobs were eliminated earlier this year when Seminole officials laid off two firefighters and two administrative employees in the Fire Department and eliminated some unfilled positions. No one will lose a job under these latest cuts, which are mostly vacant positions.
The city will also stop paying for short-term disability for all employees. Employees can keep the benefit if they pay for it themselves.
Left untouched were the library and recreation department, which increased slightly.
Harry Kyne, Seminole's director of administration, said those are already cut back as far as possible.
Any further cuts, he said, would result in shorter opening times, which would hurt residents.
Costs for police services are increasing.
Seminole contracts with the Pinellas County sheriff for protection, and the cost of that contract will increase 5.7 percent — from $1,624,393 to $1,716,810.
Some employees can expect a 2 percent merit increase, and all of them, except City Manager Frank Edmunds, will receive a 2 percent cost-of-living increase.
Here are the totals for all Seminole departments:
• The City Council, city manager, city clerk: $632,610 (current year); $606,353 for 2008-09; 4.2 percent decrease.
• Law enforcement: $1,624,393 to $1,716,810, a 5.7 percent increase.
• Administration: $2,788,218 to $2,717,728, a 2.5 percent decrease.
• Community development/planning: $1,077,122 to $924,826, a 14.1 percent decrease.
• Public works (library, recreation): $1,705,304 to $1,763,276, a 3.4 percent increase.
• Fire: $9,990,947 to $8,919,654, a 10.7 percent decrease.