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CITY COUNCIL ENDORSES A HIGHER TAX RATE

PORT RICHEY

Seeking to give the city a financial cushion, the City Council voted 4-1 Tuesday evening to go with a tax rate of 4.2 mills for the coming year, up from 3.9 mills this past year. Because of plummeting property values, however, the higher tax rate will still raise the same amount of revenue for the city as in the previous year. City officials had built a proposed $8.6 million budget assuming a tax rate of $3.90 for every $1,000 of assessed taxable property value. The city even cut about $100,000 through attrition: Two clerical positions won't be filled, and the city manager has also taken on the public works manager's duties since his departure. But a council majority opted for the higher rate Tuesday evening, with council member Perry Bean suggesting some of the extra money could go toward employee raises or hiring another police officer. Council member Phil Abts cast the only dissenting vote, saying he wanted the city to push for a lower tax rate. The final public hearing on the budget will be held at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 23 at City Hall, 6333 Ridge Road. The budget must be approved before Oct. 1, when the next fiscal year begins.

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