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Two cities see budgets move in opposite directions

City spending in Oldsmar is expected to go down next year, and Tarpon Springs officials expect a major road project to increase spending.

The Oldsmar City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved a $22.5-million budget for 2004-05 that includes a $3.9-million decrease in city spending.

Spending on water and sewer operations, which will account for 25.4 percent of the city's total budget, will go down more than $600,000. Spending on capital improvements, which in the past have included projects such as the library design and street paving, will decrease by nearly 60 percent to $768,000.

As part of next year's budget, which goes into effect Oct. 1, the city plans to buy a new fire rescue vehicle and to contract with the Pinellas Sheriff's Office for another deputy to help with traffic enforcement.

The property tax rate will remain at 4.65 mills, or $4.65 in city taxes per $1,000 of assessed, nonexempt property value.

The city's property tax rate translates to about $581 in city taxes owed on a home assessed at $150,000 with a $25,000 homestead exemption. That hypothetical tax bill does not include taxes collected by Pinellas County, the School Board or other government agencies.

Tarpon Springs commissioners last week approved a $45.2-million budget for the coming fiscal year.

The property tax rate of 4.95 mills, or $4.95 in tax for every $1,000 of assessed, nonexempt property value, will stay steady from last year.

For example, a resident whose home is assessed at $150,000, after the $25,000 homestead exemption, would pay about $618 in city taxes.

Many homeowners in both cities could see their property taxes go up because of rising property assessments.

At a Sept. 16 meeting, the Tarpon Springs City Commission passed the budget unanimously and passed the taxrate 4-1. Commissioner Peter Dalacos voted no.

The 2004-05 budget is up 15.67 percent over last year. The cost of repaving parts of Tarpon Avenue and Pinellas Avenue accounts for much of that increase. Roughly $4.4-million has been earmarked for that project. Construction is set for late spring.