Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tarpon Springs commissioners weigh millage increase versus pay cuts

TARPON SPRINGS — City Manager Mark LeCouris is recommending Tarpon Springs increase its tax rate by half a mill and withdraw more than $750,000 from the city's reserves to balance the city's budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

But Commissioner Chris Alahouzos has what he thinks is a better idea: City commissioners and city staff members paid the highest salaries should take the brunt of the cuts.

"Everybody knows salaries are the biggest expense," Alahouzos said Monday night at a budget work session. "I'm in favor of a salary reduction. Start with management employees and with us, the commission. Reduce our salary, perhaps 25 to 50 percent."

Alahouzos said if cuts are going to be suggested during these tough times, commissioners should look at their salaries.

City salaries make up more than $14.4 million of the proposed $19.7 million budget.

But Alahouzos' idea fell flat with Mayor David Archie and the other commissioners. They said cutting salaries was not the right direction for the city.

"I don't buy into that," Archie said. "Right now, while it seems symbolic and a great thing, at some point, we have to tackle" the idea that a charter change in the 1990s "did a lot more damage than people could foresee."

The charter amendment he was referring to allows only a half-mill increase in the tax rate each fiscal year.

"It was a tough political decision last year and may be again this year," he said of the half-mill increase. "I don't think that (cutting salaries) is going to get us where we need to be."

Commissioner Robin Saenger agreed.

"I don't think it's a sustainable solution to ask management to take a reduction," Saenger said. "That's going to take us in one direction. I don't think the city needs to go down that road."

Because of property value declines, the city would have to raise its tax rate to 5.6167, about 0.66 mills more than allowed by the city charter, to collect the same amount of taxes as it did last year.

Monday evening, LeCouris presented a 2010-11 fiscal year budget that already had $1.08 million in reductions from its first draft. The proposed budget calls for a tax rate increase from $4.95 to $5.45 per $1,000 of taxable property value. Even with that increase, the city still would have to withdraw $764,132 from its reserve fund.

"It's a conservative and responsible approach in an uncertain economic climate," LeCouris said. "It maintains the level of service without jeopardizing the unassigned fund balance. Some residential and most commercial property owners will pay fewer taxes."

For fiscal year 2010-11, the city's assessed property values declined 11.5 percent. Because of that decline, some residential property owners and many of commercial property owners will see a decrease in their taxes, even with a tax rate increase.

Finance director Arie Walker said that if a commercial property is worth $200,000 and has a $25,000 exemption, with the current 4.95 millage rate, $175,000 would be the taxable value. The owner would pay $866 in taxes.

But with the property value decline, Walker said the property is now worth $160,000. Add the exemption and the assessed value is lowered to $135,000. With the proposed 5.45 rate, the owner would pay $735 in taxes.

Walker said it's difficult to determine the effect on residential property because there are many variables.

Demorris A. Lee can be reached at dalee@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4174.

Fast facts

What's next

Aug. 16: Second budget workshop

Sept. 9: First public hearing

Sept. 23: Second public hearing

All meetings start at 6:30 p.m. and are at City Hall, 324 E. Pine St.

Tarpon Springs commissioners weigh millage increase versus pay cuts 07/20/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 20, 2010 7:58pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. USF hoops to play at Indiana in November

    Blogs

    The USF men's basketball team is set to get an early test from a Big Ten powerhouse in non-conference play next season.

  2. Last steel beam marks construction milestone for Tom and Mary James' museum

    Growth

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom and Mary James on Wednesday signed their names to the last steel beam framing the 105-ton stone mesa that will be built at the entrance of the museum that bears their name: the James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art.

    The topping-out ceremony of the James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art was held Wednesday morning in downtown St. Petersburg. Mary James (from left), husband Tom and Mayor Rick Kriseman signed the final beam before it was put into place. When finished, the $55 million museum at 100 Central Ave. will hold up to 500 pieces of the couple's 3,000-piece art collection. [Courtesy of James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art]
  3. Florida's school grades improve as educators get the hang of a new system

    Testing

    Following a trend, Florida's school grades showed strong gains in the third year after the state changed its grading formula and the standardized tests that students take every year.

    After finding out earlier Wednesday that her school went from a low C to an A,  Bear Creek Elementary principal Willette Houston celebrates with her students in the YMCA After School program at the school in St. Petersburg. Houston is giving a high five to rising fifth grader Jonaven Viera. Rising 4th grader Jonathan Cafaro is in foreground with his back to camera. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]
  4. Tampa Bay woman, 11-year-old boy had sex up to 20 times the year their baby was born, detectives say.

    Crime

    TAMPA — A woman sexually battered an 11-year-old Brandon boy, got pregnant and raised the baby for three years before a tip led to her arrest, Hillsborough County sheriff's officials said.

    Marissa Mowry, now 25,  had sex as many as 20 times in 2014 with a boy who was 11 when he impregnated her, Hillsborough County detectives allege. [Photo courtesy of Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office]
  5. Heights Public Market to host two Tampa Bay food trucks

    Business

    TAMPA — The Heights Public Market announced the first two food trucks for its "rotating stall," which will feature new restaurants every four months. Surf and Turf and Empamamas will be rolled out first.

    Heights Public Market is opening this summer inside the Tampa Armature Works building.
[SKIP O'ROURKE   |   Times file photo]