Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tough budget decisions ahead for St. Pete Beach

ST. PETE BEACH — The City Commission will face some tough decisions about next year's budget.

The Amendment 1 tax cuts, loss of revenue from licenses and permitting and drops in property value will likely leave commissioners with a decision of cutting more positions, raising taxes or some combination of the two.

The proposed 2009 budget was prepared with the intention of cutting positions in the police and fire departments to avoid raising the city's millage rate, but the Budget and Finance Committee has recommended raising the millage in an effort to save positions and build up the city's general fund reserve.

The final decisions could weigh heavily on a commission whose members previously said they would go to great lengths to avoid either raising the millage or making any cuts resulting in a decrease in level of service. "I think they need to be compromised," Mayor Mike Finnerty said. There's a middle ground there somewhere."

If approved as is, the Police Department would lose four positions and the city would contract with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, laying off five dispatchers.

The Fire Department would lose three firefighter EMT positions that were added in 2002.

Combined with the elimination of several other city staff positions and last year's cuts, the city would have eliminated 24 positions over the past two years, which would "push the city staff to the limit in providing the level of service the residents have enjoyed in the past," City Manager Mike Bonfield said during the budget's introduction.

On the other hand, the Budget and Finance Committee recommended keeping the three firefighter EMT positions and the police dispatch.

Members also recommended building up the city's general fund reserve by setting aside $285,000 for the next five years, for about $3.4-million or three months of operating cost.

"We've certainly got to build up our reserves. We certainly are in a dangerous financial position," Finnerty said of the current reserve, which in the case of an emergency would only cover about one month of operating costs.

But the committee's recommendations would increase the current millage rate by about 9 percent, which means an annual cost increase of $45 on a homesteaded property worth $500,000, according to Finance Director Elaine Trehy.

The commission will likely discuss raising the millage rate and other options at Tuesday's regular scheduled commission meeting.

Commissioner Harry Metz says he thinks the city can make cuts in staff and avoid raising the millage, while keeping the fire and police departments intact.

"It looks like there's one supervisor for every two people," Metz said.

"There's other fat that needs to be trimmed."

Nick Johnson can be reached at nickjohnson@sptimes.com or 893-8361.

Tough budget decisions ahead for St. Pete Beach 07/19/08 [Last modified: Friday, July 25, 2008 3:05pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Photo gallery: Florida High School Track & Field State Championships, May 6, 2017

    Blogs

    View a gallery of images from Saturday's Florida High School Track & Field State Championships in Bradenton.

    Jefferson High sprinters Eyekeyle Gardner, 17, left, and Kourtney Lawton, 15, compete in the Girls 2A 4x400 Meter relay during the FHSAA Track & Field Finals held at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida on Saturday, May 6, 2017.
  2. Police: 8 dead in Mississippi shooting, including deputy

    Nation

    BROOKHAVEN, Miss. — Authorities in Mississippi say a suspect is in custody after eight people were killed in a shooting, including a sheriff's deputy.

  3. Photos: 97X BBQ brings Grouplove, Coin, Milky Chance, more to Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg

    Blogs

    Alternative rock fans got a jump start on Memorial Day partying on Saturday at the annual 97X BBQ, which brought Grouplove, Milky Chance, K. Flay, Coin and more to Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg. Kasamba Kokayi was there snapping photos; click the headline of this post for a slideshow.

    Grouplove performed at the 97X BBQ at Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg on May 27, 2017.
  4. Winner and loser of the week in Florida politics

    Blogs

    Winner of the week 1: 'Liquor wall’ proponents. Gov. Rick Scott’s veto of a bill to allow Walmart, Target and other big box stores to sell liquor was a victory for an array of groups, from smaller merchants and Publix (which has stand-alone booze shops near its stores) to those who feel the hard stuff …

  5. Review / photos: Sunset Music Festival brings Major Lazer, safety upgrades to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa

    Blogs

    Somewhere beyond the barricades and mountainous LED stages of the Sunset Music Festival, there had to be worry. There had to thousands of parents in parking lots and empty kitchens, anxiously distracting their minds, every now and then checking their phones.

    Major Lazer headlined the Sunset Music Festival on May 27, 2017 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.