Friday, August 17, 2018
News Roundup

St. Pete Beach to hold line on property tax rate

ST. PETE BEACH — Property tax rates are slated to remain unchanged here next year, but many residents may see higher tax bills, thanks to a 7.2 percent increase in property values.

City commissioners on Tuesday set the maximum property tax rate at $3.15 per $1,000 of assessed, taxable value.

This means that a home valued at $300,000 after all exemptions would be billed $945 for city taxes next year.

The actual tax bill will be higher, however, depending on the individual rates set by Pinellas County, the School Board and other taxing agencies.

Final votes on property taxes will be taken on Sept. 5 and Sept. 19 when the commission approves its budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year beginning in October.

The proposed tax rate is expected to generate $8.3 million in revenue, $555,000 more than in the current budget.

Other revenues expected to increase include a 25.6 percent ($618,000) hike in parking fee collections, which have already increased 40 percent this year.

Sewer fees for both residents and businesses are scheduled to rise 8.25 percent, while stormwater assessment increases ranging from 3 percent to 13.5 percent will be levied.

Despite expected revenue increases, City Manager Wayne Saunders said spending in the proposed budget is "essentially flat."

The new budget projects spending $20 million for general operating expenses and an additional nearly $30 million for capital projects, as well as wastewater, stormwater and reclaimed water operations.

Surplus revenue will be set aside, he said, to build the city's unassigned and emergency funds, as well as capital reserves.

The budget provides for a 3 percent salary increase for regular employees, increases for firefighters as provided in their contract, and spends 60 percent of the city's revenues for public safety (police and fire) and public works.

The city plans to hire an additional community policing sheriff's deputy who will focus on patrolling neighborhoods and the city's beaches.

Budget priorities for the coming year outlined by administrative services director Vince Tenaglia focus on street rehabilitation and beautification and maintenance of public properties.

Major projects planned for the coming year include improvements to Pass-a-Grille Way, $9.1 million; Blind Pass Road, $5.7 million; beach crossovers, $600,000; burying utilities along portions of Gulf Boulevard, $1 million; and improvements to the city's sewage, stormwater and reclaimed water systems, $1.7 million.

More than another $600,000 will be spent to repair seawalls, streets and alleys, finance upgrades to the Upham Beach concession stand and repairs to the Don Vista community center and other city facilities.

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