Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Petersburg City Council ponders $10 million deficit for 2013 budget proposal

ST. PETERSBURG — If council members are to get a proposed budget from Mayor Bill Foster for 2013 that's balanced in the next six months, they'll need first to plug a projected deficit of $10 million.

And that shortfall, which is in the city's $199 million general fund that pays for personnel costs, is only that much if there's no increase in operating expenses, health or pension increases — which isn't likely.

"So the $10 million deficit could be a larger number," said council member Jim Kennedy.

Still, Foster said during a meeting last week that he's hopeful the decline in property values will slow this year. This year's revenues are expected to produce $30 million less than those in 2008. Even with that possible silver lining, however, he repeated his mantra as council members ponder what services and departments get funding and which ones get cut.

"Don't tell us what you want, tell us what you need," Foster told them.

It's early in the budget season, so council members didn't get too specific. Some mentioned that this could be the year to seriously talk about raising the property tax rate, which hasn't been increased in more than 22 years. A fire fee will be discussed in the future. Such a fee would impose a flat charge, for example, $5 on every property in the city to raise money for firefighting.

Foster doesn't support the fee and could always veto it, meaning the board would need six votes. It doesn't help the fire fee cause that newcomer Charlie Gerdes, who is open to raising the property tax rate, opposes it. Bill Dudley, who identifies himself as a fiscal conservative, said he doesn't support raising fees until he's convinced that the city has made all the necessary cuts. Steve Kornell objects to administrative costs in establishing a fee.

Meanwhile, council members expressed support for new or existing programs that need funding in the future.

For instance, Karl Nurse, said he wants the city to buy up foreclosed homes so they're not just sitting empty, hurting the property values of surrounding homes. Meanwhile, the city's code enforcement needs more funding, he said.

Wengay Newton said he'd oppose any cuts to parks and recreation programs because they occupy the time of children who might otherwise be getting into trouble.

"If we start cutting there, we'll need more police officers in the street," he said.

Kornell said the city should focus more on economic development and try to nurture locally grown companies. Jeff Danner said the city should continue funding the looper shuttle that ferries people along Central Avenue and reminded council members that the city's homeless needs hadn't gone away just because many of the more visible ones now reside out of sight in a shelter.

"Just because there's not 200 people sleeping out in our downtown doesn't mean they aren't there," Danner said.

The city will have three budget summits, where residents can suggest cuts and spending to Foster and council members. They will be held on April 25, May 16 and June 13. Locations have yet to be determined.

The council will hold two public hearings on the budget in September.

The budget goes into effect on Oct. 1.

Michael Van Sickler can be reached at (727) 893-8037 or mvansickler@tampabay.com.

St. Petersburg City Council ponders $10 million deficit for 2013 budget proposal 01/24/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 24, 2012 6:24pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Review: 'The Last Tycoon' is a dazzling adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's unfinished work

    Blogs

    There's no business like 1930s show business.

    Matt Bomer is Monroe Stahr in Amazon's The Last Tycoon.
  2. 'Chrisley Knows Best' stars filmed in St. Petersburg

    Blogs

    Keep an eye out for reality TV stars. Members of the Chrisley family from the USA series Chrisley Knows Best were filming in St. Petersburg this week, St. Petersburg-Clearwater film commissioner Tony Armer confirmed today. 

    Todd and Savannah Chrisley in a scene from Season 5 of "Chrisley Knows Best."
  3. Deputies say Wesley Chapel man admitted to having child pornography

    Crime

    WESLEY CHAPEL — A man admitted to possessing child pornography, according to the Pasco Sheriff's Office, after authorities seized several computers, tablets, thumb drives, DVDs and cell phones from his property.

    Jeffrey D. Stanford was arrested on 10 counts of possessing child pornography. [Photo courtesy of Pasco Sheriff's Office]
  4. Scalise discharged from hospital, beginning rehabilitation

    National

    WASHINGTON — House Majority Whip Steve Scalise — who was critically wounded in a shooting at a baseball practice last month — has been discharged from a Washington hospital.

    House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise of La., speaks with the media on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 17, 2017. Scalise, critically wounded in a shooting at a baseball practice last month, has been discharged from a Washington hospital. [Associated Press]
  5. FWC identifies boaters seen dragging shark in viral video

    Wildlife

    Officials with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission have identified the individuals shown on a viral video dragging a shark behind a boat on a rope as men laugh each time its body slams the water.

    The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is investigating a viral video that shows a shark being dragged behind a boat on a rope as men laugh each time its body slams the water. [Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission]