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St. Pete Beach budget keeps property taxes same

ST. PETE BEACH — Next year's proposed city budget calls for no property tax increases, but includes $600,000 in general fund cuts to offset drops in property taxes and other revenues.

However, the $13.7 million 2010-2011 budget proposed last week by City Manager Mike Bonfield does not include nearly $100,000 in spending suggested last month by the City Commission.

Bonfield said his budget "does not reduce any level of service" provided residents, but cautioned that any extra spending would require the city to either dip into its reserves or impose a "slight increase" in property taxes.

Such a property tax increase would raise the current millage rate of 2.4834 mills by about 0.05 mills, said Elaine Edmunds, finance director.

A mill represents $1 in taxes for every $1,000 of taxable property value. Therefore, a home with a taxable value, after exemptions, of $200,000 would pay $200 in property taxes for each mill.

Among the commission's requests is an extra $25,000 for extra legal fees above the $200,000 already budgeted, as well as $28,000 for holiday decorations that were eliminated last year, $25,000 for additional park landscaping maintenance, $10,400 to re-open the city library on Mondays, and $10,000 for a larger Forth of July fireworks display.

Bonfield cut the current budget more than $200,000 by eliminating the equivalent of three positions in public services, information technology, and the city clerk's office.

These cuts are in addition to the 24 positions the city eliminated over the past three years to respond to sharply declining revenues and property values.

Property values are expected to decrease another 7.4 percent next year, resulting in a loss of $454,302 in revenue to the city. Revenues from pension plan taxes, parking fees, library support and interest is also expected to decrease.

The city does expect to receive more money from electric utility taxes, however, and has already put in place increases in sewer fees and is in the process of raising reclaimed water fees.

The proposed budget also includes a 2 percent cost-of-living increase for city employees.

Bonfield proposes spending about $2.5 million on capital projects next year, including $290,325 for street repairs, $100,000 for landscaping on the Bayway Bridge causeway, $200,750 for roadway improvements on Blind Pass Road, $195,000 to complete purchase of land adjacent to Egan Park, and $500,000 for sewer system repairs and maintenance.

The commission will not formally discuss the budget until after it is reviewed by the city's Finance and Budget Committee, which will report its recommendations in early July.

The commission is scheduled to set its tentative millage rate, an amount that can be reduced but not increased in the final budget, on July 27.

Commission budget workshops will be held in August, with the formal public hearings on the final budget and actual proposed millage rate on Sept. 15 and 28. The new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

St. Pete Beach budget keeps property taxes same 06/15/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 15, 2010 4:34pm]
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