ST. PETE BEACH — Angry phone calls, e-mails and vocal protests forced the commission Tuesday to quickly back off a proposed increase in the city's property tax rate.
Commissioner Marvin Shavlan, who had originally proposed the tax increase and openly invited residents to react, apologized to residents, many of whom came to a special budget workshop with copies of Neighborhood Times that reported the commission's July 27 decision to set a tentative property tax rate of 2.9612 mills — 0.4024 mills higher than the city's current property tax rate of 2.5588 mills.
"The newspaper blew it out of proportion. The intent was not to raise taxes. We just tried to give ourselves some breathing room," Shavlan said.
"The reality is you are going to walk away with about the same tax rate as you had before, or maybe even less," Commissioner Bev Garnett told residents during a budget workshop.
The commission will again discuss the proposed budget after its regular meeting Tuesday. The final millage rate will be set after two formal public hearings in September.