Sunday, April 22, 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.

Comments
4 dead in Nashville Waffle House shooting; suspect sought

4 dead in Nashville Waffle House shooting; suspect sought

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A gunman wearing nothing but a green jacket and brandishing an assault rifle stormed a Waffle House restaurant in Nashville and shot four people to death before dawn Sunday, according to police, who credited a customer with s...
Updated: 14 minutes ago
Andrei Vasilevskiy and the universal language of playoff hockey

Andrei Vasilevskiy and the universal language of playoff hockey

TAMPA — As usual, Andrei Vasilevskiy didn't speak in front of the cameras after the game. He has been like that since he hit the NHL. He still isn't comfortable with his English on TV.But Vasilevskiy spoke loudly and clearly in the first-round ...
Updated: 30 minutes ago
How Baker Mayfield can benefit the Bucs

How Baker Mayfield can benefit the Bucs

TAMPA — The buzz at the top of this year's NFL draft is a class of talented quarterbacks deep enough to challenge the all-time record of six in the first round, set in 1983 with a group that included future Hall of Famers John Elway, Jim Kelly ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
It’s Earth Day. Here are 11 stories about how climate change affects Florida.

It’s Earth Day. Here are 11 stories about how climate change affects Florida.

Happy Earth Day, Florida!In the spirit of the holiday that recognizes our planet’s clean air, water and land, here are 11 stories the Tampa Bay Times has published about how climate change affects the Sunshine State.1. The Florida keys have to elevat...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Ex-NFL kicker Jay Feely apologizes for ‘joke’ gun photo

Ex-NFL kicker Jay Feely apologizes for ‘joke’ gun photo

Former NFL kicker Jay Feely, who was born in Odessa and starred at Tampa Jesuit, has apologized for a photo he intended as a joke, showing him holding a gun as he poses with his daughter and her prom date."Wishing my beautiful daughter and her date a...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Deputies: Florida man on LSD knocks out teen girl at RaceTrac while her parent pumps gas

Deputies: Florida man on LSD knocks out teen girl at RaceTrac while her parent pumps gas

ST. PETERSBURG — A man punched a 13-year-old girl inside a RaceTrac convenience store on Saturday, knocking her unconscious as her parent pumped gas outside, Pinellas deputies reported.Kolbe Wayne Smith, 27 and of St. Petersburg, now faces charges of...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Perspective: The Heartland to Headwaters Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition finds frustration and fear seeking a safe path for wildlife across Interstate 4

Perspective: The Heartland to Headwaters Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition finds frustration and fear seeking a safe path for wildlife across Interstate 4

The original Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition in 2012 was inspired by how the Florida black bear roamed — and the space it needed to do so successfully. In 2010, expedition team member Joe Guthrie conducted research through the University of Kent...
Updated: 3 hours ago
District softball schedules for Tampa Bay

District softball schedules for Tampa Bay

Class 9A-8 (higher seed hosts)Tuesday: No. 3 Alonso at No. 2 Palm Harbor University, 4; No. 4 Sarasota Riverview at No. 1 Newsome, 7Thursday: Final, 4 or 7 (depending on who hosts)Class 8A-4 at Strawberry Crest Tuesday: No. 1 Wharton vs. No. 4 Wiregr...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Teen killed in crash remembered as

Teen killed in crash remembered as "always smiling and laughing"

WEEKI WACHEE — Seth Leathers was on his way to play basketball at his church when he was killed Wednesday in a car crash on U.S. 19 in Spring Hill, according to family friend Laurie Pike.Leathers, 16, was the passenger in a car driven by his friend G...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Rays thoughts are with ex-teammate Danny Farquhar

Rays thoughts are with ex-teammate Danny Farquhar

Members of the Rays organization sent their thoughts and prayers to former teammate Danny Farquhar, who was hospitalized Saturday night in Chicago in stable but critical condition after suffering a brain hemorrhage caused by a ruptured aneurysm.Farqu...
Updated: 9 hours ago