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St. Petersburg City Council approves tentative budget

ST. PETERSBURG — After hours of debate, the City Council voted 5-3 late Thursday to adopt Mayor Bill Foster's tentative budget for the next fiscal year, pledging to prepare more detailed amendments before the final public hearing.

Council members Leslie Curran, Steve Kornell and Wengay Newton dissented, claiming funds could be better used to clean up dilapidated corridors and prepare the city's youth for employment.

The council chambers in City Hall reached capacity by 6 p.m., brimming with homeowners who don't want to see tax spikes and vocal supporters from the People's Budget Review, a nonpartisan coalition of neighborhood groups, civic groups and union members.

After four years without pay raises, city workers would see a "modest wage increase" in the next fiscal year under Foster's newest budget. City officials say a 2 percent hike is on the table.

Unlike in recent years, Foster proposes no cuts to parks, pools, libraries or recreation centers. He also wants to keep social services and art programs funded at current levels.

Foster proposes reducing the millage of $6.7742 per $1,000 of a property's taxable value to $6.7700. A resident owning a house valued for tax purposes at $150,000 and claiming $50,000 in homestead exemptions would save 42 cents under the new rate.

He called the cut a "down payment toward my commitment to reducing taxes in the future."

The second public hearing on the $211 million general fund proposal is set for Sept. 26.

The City Council must approve a balanced budget by Oct. 1.

St. Petersburg City Council approves tentative budget 09/12/13 [Last modified: Friday, September 13, 2013 12:20am]

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