Sunday, December 17, 2017
News Roundup

Stormwater hike, once-weekly trash proposed in 2015 Dunedin budget

DUNEDIN — Residents can expect to pay the same property tax rate under the budget proposed for next fiscal year, but they will likely see a bump in their stormwater bills.

If city commissioners next month approve finance director Karen Feeney's 2015 plan, homeowners would continue to pay $3.73 per $1,000 of taxable, assessed property value. That means a property owner with a home assessed at $150,000 with a $50,000 homestead exemption is likely to see a city tax bill of $373.

Elected leaders are still working with a consultant to figure out exactly how much stormwater fees will rise, but Feeney said she expects the increase to be no more than 50 cents per month for homeowners.

Meanwhile, trash rates are expected to go up 5 percent for commercial customers only as the city transitions in January from twice-weekly waste pickup to once-weekly trash, recycling and bulk collection.

"It's to bring the rates more in line with the cost of service," Feeney said, adding that the rate increase wouldn't apply to residential customers.

The proposed $72.9 million budget represents a decrease from this year's budget of $76.8 million.

"It decreased because of capital projects. We're winding down on some big ones" that improved water, sewer and stormwater, Feeney said.

Large projects planned for 2015 include a new City Hall and government services building (for which $2.1 million is budgeted in 2015 and the remaining $1 million or more anticipated for 2016); $2.3 million worth of water and sewer work; and $3.5 million for stormwater projects.

The city also plans to spend $2.6 million on vehicles, including roughly $612,000 for a new fire truck and $820,000 to replace aging trash trucks.

No layoffs are proposed. Officials have set aside about $700,000 to cover raises of 3 percent for the city's roughly 340 employees, matching pay increases negotiated for firefighters.

A 9 percent increase in health costs was recommended to bring rates in line with equivalent increases by the city's insurer during the past two years.

Most employees pay $21.66 a month for Dunedin's base HMO plan, Feeney said, and the proposed increase would amount to about $1.95 more a month: "But we aren't finished negotiating with our third-party administrator. We may be able to do some plan design things that make it a little bit less," she said.

The public gets to weigh in during budget hearings set for Sept. 18 and 25. The new budget year starts Oct. 1.

Contact Keyonna Summers at [email protected] or (727) 445-4153. Follow @KeyonnaSummers.

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