OLDSMAR — City officials plan to keep the property tax rate flat, but because of increasing property values, the proposed budget of $30 million includes a redesign for Canal Park, raises for city employees as well as putting $2.1 million in reserves.
With the rate holding steady at $4.05 per $1,000 in assessed, taxable property, the owner of a home valued at $150,000 with a $50,000 homestead exemption would pay $405 in city taxes. The city's taxable value is estimated at 5.63 percent more than this year.
The budget sets aside $200,000 for the beginning of a long-range project, upgrading Canal Park, home to the city's athletic fields, as well as the BMX track. This year's money would be used for the design phase, said Lynn Rives, director of leisure services.
"Canal Park's value for us is both for families that use it as well as for economic development of the whole area. We want to see what else we can fit in there as well to try to create a better use of space for the users we have now,'' Rives said.
The city is also able to move forward on implementing recommendations of a pay and benefits study, at a cost of about $140,000, that was coordinated by the administrative services department earlier this year. The city spent four months comparing Oldsmar's pay system with similar cities across Florida, looking at minimum and maximum pay rates in different jobs. The raises will be given after the start of the new fiscal year, Oct. 1, with the potential of an additional three percent race on the employee's anniversary, explained city manager Bruce Haddock, at a recent budget workshop.
"What we found is the pay plan we currently have in place is fairly competitive,'' Haddock said. "But when we looked at the minimum and the maximum, we fared worse when it came to the maximum.
The City Council's final approval of the budget will not be given until Sept. 20, and until then, everything is tentative, including keeping the tax rate at the level it has been since 2009. So far, Mayor Doug Bevis concurs with city staff's recommendation, stressing that the city has not yet seen a full recovery from the recession years. "Even though the economy is recovering, the city's taxable value is near the 2010 level,'' Bevis said.
Contact Piper Castillo at [email protected] Follow @Florida_PBJC.