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Treasure Island scrambles to cut spending as revenue plummets

TREASURE ISLAND — Budgeted city revenues are down more than $100,000 and perhaps as much as $448,000 — a situation that has city officials scrambling to find ways to cut spending.

Just how much the city must cut spending is uncertain.

The city's finance director, Jim Keranen, says property tax revenues will be about $100,000 less than expected. Other revenue sources, such as utility taxes, sales taxes, money from parking meters, permits and activity fees, are down as well.

But Keranen says if current spending cutbacks continue and revenues do not decrease any more, the city will end the year "real, real close" to its original $16.45 million budget.

Commissioner Ed Gayton Jr. said he thinks the revenue shortfall will be much greater.

Based on half the year's revenue and spending patterns, he says the city is facing nearly $600,000 in red ink by the end of the year.

"Where are we going to save $600,000 in the next six months? Is there any magic ball that you have?" Gayton asked during a workshop discussion last week.

City Manager Reid Silverboard said the city has cut back on planting flowers and replacing mulch in city parks, put off buying police cars and a $63,000 backhoe, reduced beach cleanings, and slowed or stopped filling vacant staff positions in an attempt to cut its spending.

In addition to making cuts to balance this year's budget, Silverboard said the city will need to look for even steeper cuts for next year.

"We are looking at about an 8 percent reduction in property tax collections. This translates to another $400,000 loss of revenue," he said.

As for balancing this year's budget, Silverboard and Keranen are preparing a special report for the commission outlining exactly where cuts are and will be made to balance the budget by the end of the fiscal year in September.

"We just simply aren't as wealthy a city as we were four, five or six years ago," said Silverboard. "There are things residents have grown accustomed to us providing that we can't provide anymore."

Both city officials say Gayton's analysis of the city's finances is too pessimistic and that the outlook cannot be judged solely on revenues and expenses incurred in the first half of the year.

Some revenues are not received until later in the year, while some expenses are paid upfront in the beginning of the year.

"Obviously, we will have to watch our expenditures for remainder of the year," Silverboard said Tuesday.

Treasure Island scrambles to cut spending as revenue plummets 05/12/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 12, 2009 5:55pm]
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