Saturday, January 20, 2018
News Roundup

Treasure Island budget keeps property tax rate flat

TREASURE ISLAND — No property tax rate increase, a 1 percent raise for employees and a rise in user fees for city facilities and events are all included in the city's proposed 2017-18 budget.

The budget, discussed for the first time by city commissioners in several workshop sessions, has been described as "frugal" and "fiscally conservative."

Residents will have their first opportunity to publicly give their opinion at hearings on Sept. 5 and 19.

The $24.3 million total budget includes a property tax rate the same as last year's: $3.33 for every $1,000 of assessed taxable value. Many property owners' tax bills will go up because of increased property values.

The budget proposal "represents a status quo service level," Finance Director Amy Davis said.

Some of the major items included are an early loan payoff of $500,000 for the city's beach trail, $300,000 for road and drainage improvements for the east causeway and $200,000 for a new municipal facilities project.

Capital expenditures are down 22 percent because of the timing of specific projects. There is a 3 percent increase in personnel costs to cover wage, benefits and insurance increases, Davis said.

A revamping of user fees citywide for things like beach event permits and facility rentals will generate an estimated $20,000 more in revenue, she said.

The city's biggest challenge, Davis said, is paying the increasing costs of repair and maintenance of the city's aging bridges and causeway.

"The major capital maintenance projects are currently unfunded because there is not enough funding in any of the city's current funding sources to absorb these costs," Davis said.

The city has hired experts to study the situation and suggest a financial plan to pay for the bridge, including possibly reinstituting a toll.

If the plan includes a property tax increase, Davis is suggesting a gradual increase beginning in 2019.

Mayor Robert Minning said his initial take on the budget is "it looks great."

"There's no (tax rate) increase which is always good," he said.

Until a financial plan is developed for the bridges and causeway, Minning thinks it is wise to wait on a possible increase.

"It (infrastructure costs) is not going away but it is premature to put in a tax increase, we need to look at our options," he said. "We are not burying our heads in the sand, we need to see what the experts are advising."

Commissioner Deborah Toth also likes many aspects of the budget proposal.

"It is leading us in a very fiscally conservative way because we need to rein in some of our costs," she said.

Toth supports increasing user fees for city facilities and events.

"We are lower on some of our fees than some in surrounding communities," she said. "Some haven't been looked at in a while."

Along with the 1 percent across-the-board pay increase for employees, the budget also includes a possible 1 to 4 percent merit increase.

Orchestra sets off fireworks in the brassy ‘Sinfonietta’

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TAMPA — Many times during Sinfonietta, Leoš Janácek’s notoriously difficult but joyous work, it was impossible for a regular patron of the Florida Orchestra to escape this observation: They have never sounded quite like this.This isn’t to say musicia...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Forecast: Tampa Bay’s bitter cold snap is finally over

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Updated: 3 hours ago

Bicyclist dead after being hit by car in Pinellas Park

PINELLAS PARK — A bicyclist is dead after he was hit by a car just before 10 a.m. Saturday morning, police said.Police were still investigating the crash in the 8700 block of 49th Street N late Saturday morning.Police shut down northbound 49th Street...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Motorcyclist crashes into Subaru while trying to flee Pinellas deputies

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Updated: 4 hours ago

Clearwater man in critical condition after medical episode while driving

DUNEDIN — A 60-year-old Clearwater man who likely had a medical episode while driving is now in the hospital with life-threatening injuries after rolling over his car, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. A Largo police off...
Updated: 4 hours ago
More than 1,000 cold-stunned sea turtles rescued in Florida Panhandle

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Florida’s dip into frigid temperatures did more than just stun humans unused to such cold air. This month scientists and volunteers have rescued more than 1,000 cold-stunned sea turtles from a single bay in the Florida Panhandle.The U.S. Geological S...
Published: 01/20/18
Romano: If UCF is national champion, then I’m a Hollywood stud

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Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said people were entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.Clearly, Moynihan never dealt with Florida legislators.Because around Tallahassee, facts are fungible. They aren’t just up for debate, they...
Updated: 3 hours ago
U.S. government shuts down; Democrats, GOP blame each other

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WASHINGTON — The federal government shut down at the stroke of midnight Friday, halting all but the most essential operations and marring the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trump’s inauguration in a striking display of Washington dysfunctio...
Published: 01/19/18
Updated: 01/20/18

High school scoreboard for Jan. 19

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Published: 01/19/18

Four people linked to Tampa carjacking captured hours later

TAMPA — It took officers just 27 minutes Friday night to capture four people who they said stole a car from its owner.The incident started outside the Ybor Coffee Shop at 5:45 a.m. A group approached the driver as he sat in his 2010 Toyota Corolla. T...
Published: 01/19/18