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Tampa approves bigger budget with no tax increase

TAMPA — The city's property tax rate will hold steady this year, funding a $787 million budget that's a bit higher than last year's.

The Tampa City Council gave final approval to the tax rate and budget on Tuesday by a 5-1 vote, with council member Charlie Miranda the lone dissenter.

Miranda said he voted against the budget because Mayor Pam Iorio covered increased costs by using $12 million in reserves.

"This is not a prudent way of operation," Miranda said, explaining that is concerned that using reserves for the second year in a row would make it difficult to balance future budgets and manage debt.

This year's budget increased 4.4 percent from last year, or about $33 million.

Spending increases will pay for capital projects, pension contributions and pay raises despite a $16 million drop in property tax revenue.

Cost savings came from laying off 39 employees, eliminating more than 100 vacant positions, consolidating city functions and changing some operations.

The struggling stock market means the city has to contribute $40.6 million to pension funds, a $29.3 million increase.

This year's budget also shows a $48.5 million increase for capital improvement projects. That includes $21.4 million for drainage improvements, $3.9 million for new police cars, and a $1.2 million increase in spending on sidewalks, traffic calming, signs and street maintenance.

The property tax rate of $5.73 per $1,000 of taxable value means a person with a $157,000 home and a $50,000 homestead exemption will pay about $613 in city property taxes. That's about 25 percent of a Tampa homeowner's property tax bill.

Janet Zink can be reached at jzink@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3401.

Tampa approves bigger budget with no tax increase 09/28/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 28, 2010 11:53pm]
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