Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Treasure Island scrambles to counter 'perfect storm'

TREASURE ISLAND — In what officials here describe as a "perfect storm," the city is facing a possible 17.25 percent property tax hike unless the City Commission severely cuts the proposed $16.78-million 2008-09 budget.

"We have got to cut not just tens of thousands of dollars, but probably in the neighborhood of a half-million dollars out of this budget (to avoid a tax increase). There is not any way to do that without cutting departments," City Manager Reid Silverboard told the City Commission during a Tuesday workshop discussion.

Commissioners will begin discussing the proposed budget at workshop sessions at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. A special meeting may be called either Thursday or Friday to set the tentative millage rate for next year.

That rate, which must be submitted to the county Property Appraiser's Office no later than Aug. 4, sets the upper limit of the final property tax rate that will be set in September when the city approves its final budget. The final rate can be lower than the official tentative millage rate but cannot be higher.

Silverboard is recommending the city's property tax rate be set at 2.7998 mills, to generate $4.4-million in property tax revenues, or about $107,000 more than was raised in property taxes this year. The current property tax rate is 2.3878 mills.

"Everybody has got to be aware of what the city manager is asking for. This is a 17.25 percent increase over the current millage rate," Commissioner Ed Gayton Jr. said.

"We have had a collection of factors that put a severe strain on our general fund." Silverboard told the commission.

He cited in particular the loss of toll revenue when the new Treasure Island bridge was built. The causeway and bridges still cost "us close to a quarter-million dollars a year and we do not have a corresponding revenue source to pay for it."

Silverboard said the recent sharp $130.9-million decline in city real estate values has exacerbated the problem.

Add to that the impact of Amendment 1 on taxable property values and other changes to property taxes, and the city's tax base is 10.45 percent lower than last year.

Next year's property tax rate would have to increase to 2.7327 mills just to generate the same level of income as the current year, he said.

Other sources of income are declining as well, Silverboard said — from utility tax collections, to lower permit fees because of the "moribund" construction industry, to less money from various state revenue-sharing programs including sales taxes.

He is proposing raising fees for recreational programs and facilities, marina slips, community center rentals, as well as imposing new fees for review services relating to development projects.

Then there are the additional operating expenses affected by rising fuel, energy and commodity costs.

"Development of the budget this year has taken place facing a perfect storm of negative factors," the city's finance director, Ruth Chapman, said.

The proposed budget is $2.86-million higher than the current year's budget, largely because of increases in PSTA, fuel and electricity costs, and a wastewater treatment rate increase.

Despite the increase in spending, the budget suspends any raises beyond a 4 percent cost-of-living adjustment, eliminates the police marine patrol, holiday decorations, and Fourth of July fireworks.

Four city employee positions were also cut from the budget — one each from the public works, sanitation, water pollution control and finance departments.

Other cuts include no longer providing plastic bags at "pooper scooper" stations in city parks, limiting beach raking to only areas immediately adjacent to the water, and cutting street sweeping from twice to once a month.

The city also has asked the Sheriff's Office for a cost estimate for taking over dispatch, records, evidence collection and storage and detective services from the city Police Department.

Silverboard described his recommended spending plan and staffing levels as "prudent and responsive."

Final approval of the budget and the property tax rate will not occur until September. Public hearings are scheduled at 6 p.m. on Sept. 3 and 17.

Treasure Island scrambles to counter 'perfect storm' 07/19/08 [Last modified: Sunday, July 20, 2008 11:12pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Fennelly: Bucs' Roberto Aguayo has his backers, no matter how many kicks he misses


    He was perfect Friday, and not just because he didn't have to kick.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Roberto Aguayo (19) takes a photo with fans following the first day of training camp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Friday, July 28, 2017.
  2. Starbucks to close all Teavana locations, including five in Tampa Bay


    Local Teavana locations include Tyrone Square in St. Petersburg, International Plaza and Westfield Citrus Park in Tampa, Brandon and Clearwater.

    Starbucks announced Thursday plans to shut down all 379 Teavana stores, citing "underperformance." Starbucks acquired the mall-based tea chain for $620 million in 2012. [ CANDICE CHOI | AP file photo]
  3. What to watch this weekend: 'The Last Tycoon,' 'Room 104,' 'Rick and Morty'


    Checking in: Room 104

    Listen up, fans of Hitchcock and American Horror Story. Room 104 might be your next obsession. With a premise that feels experimental, Room 104 explores one of film's most traditional styles - telling a story from the inside of just one room. The HBO series is from …

    Each episode of Room 104 follows the guests of a single motel rom and the strange and wonderful things they experience.
  4. Rubio: I intend to keep campaign promises on Obamacare


    WASHINGTON - Sen. Marco Rubio says he remains committed to overturning Obamacare following the collapse of the latest attempt.

  5. Family spokeswoman: British baby Charlie Gard has died


    LONDON — Charlie Gard, the critically ill British baby at the center of a legal battle that attracted the attention of Pope Francis and U.S. President Donald Trump, has died. He would have turned 1 next week.

    This is an undated photo of sick baby Charlie Gard provided by his family, taken at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. [Family of Charlie Gard via AP]