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St. Petersburg's expected deficit shrinking; now projected at $1.5 million this year

ST. PETERSBURG — The city's latest projections show an expected deficit in this year's budget is shrinking.

In February, officials predicted the city would end its fiscal year in September with a $2.3 million shortfall. That number is now about $1.5 million, according to a memo Budget Director Tom Greene recently submitted to City Council.

He attributed the gain to departments holding the line on expenses, even as revenues have remained mostly flat.

"These projected reductions are attributable to salary savings from open positions in various departments," Greene wrote. "The lower than budgeted fuel cost has also provided benefit."

Green will give the council's budget committee a summary of the city's second quarter performance this morning at City Hall. The meeting also will include an update on city finances and investments.

Officials now expect the city to take in $211.5 million in general fund revenue this fiscal year and have $212.9 million in expenses.

"These quarterly projections are really just snapshots. We do expect and are hopeful that the trend will continue," Mayor Rick Kriseman said Wednesday. "We feel pretty good we're in a good place."

Kriseman, who is in the process of creating next year's budget, has told staff he wants them to continue to find savings this year. Three days after taking office, he met with top administrators and asked every department to find at least 1 percent in savings.

Last month, he launched a contest to motivate them. The top three departments that save the most by September's end will be treated to a picnic at a city park, Kriseman said.

"Picture me in a chef's hat manning the grill, or the Deputy Mayor manning the drink table and other members of the Mayor's office serving you and your team lunch," he wrote in a memo.

To make it fair, departments will be divided into three categories: small (less than 50 full time employees), medium (50 to 100 full time employees) and large (100 or more full timers).

Kriseman said he hasn't heard of any of the departments' money-saving ideas yet. He also hasn't decided what he's going to serve them. "I make a wicked Caesar salad," he joked

Kameel Stanley can be reached at kstanley@tampabay.com, (727) 893-8643 or on Twitter @cornandpotatoes.

St. Petersburg's expected deficit shrinking; now projected at $1.5 million this year 05/07/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 11:39pm]
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