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Safety Harbor plans small improvements

One of the biggest complaints library officials hear is that the pretty new building is closed Sundays. But when next year's budget goes into effect Oct. 1, that will most likely change.

Lengthening library hours is a highlight of the proposed budget for the 1996-96 fiscal year, one that indicates commissioners feel status quo is the way to go. The property tax rate hasn't changed since 1988.

That means the owner of an average home assessed at $95,000 with a $25,000 homestead exemption would pay city taxes of $262.69. A homeowner's total tax bill will be affected by other factors, such as higher or lower assessed value, and taxes from other government agencies, such as the county and the School Board.

Commissioners indicated as they discussed the city's proposed $34.4-million budget Wednesday that not much will change.

There were a few notable exceptions:

The Sunday hours at the library will most likely be from 1 to 5 p.m. Commissioners agreed the cost involved, $14,000 annually, was money well spent.

The recreation staff requested $10,500 to put into youth sport camps next summer. Tom Ronald, leisure services director, said summer programs held within the city and at the Long Center are in great demand and always fill up quickly. The city expects to recoup more than $16,000 in fees for the sports camps, turning a profit.

The Fire Department requested $800 for new furniture to fill the space left when a clerical worker was reassigned. The area will serve as a greeting room for walk-ins to the fire station next to City Hall. Because it is a designated Safe House, fire officials said, people come in several times a week at late hours with minor emergencies.

Those watching the commission meetings on public-access cable channels often report a buzzing sound throughout the session. Commissioners authorized $5,500 in improvements to the recording system to correct the problem.

Once streetscaping Main Street is completed, city staff estimated it will take $25,000 a year to keep the area clean. Before approving the sum, commissioners directed the staff to call other cities with revamped main streets, such as Dunedin, to determine what it costs them. The commission will revisit the cost at one of the two remaining budget workshops.

Commissioners will continue City Hall discussions of the budget at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday.

Tax proposal

Safety Harbor is proposing a 1996-97 tax rate of 3.7527 mills, the same as this year. A mill is equal to $1 for every $1,000 of assessed taxable property value. To find out what your taxes would be, take the assessed value of your home and subtract the $25,000 homestead exemption, if you qualify. Then divide the number by 1,000 and multiply by 3.7527.