MADEIRA BEACH — Despite spending more than $10 million on a new city hall, fire station and recreational complex in recent years and $9.7 million in new general fund spending planned for next year, the city's proposed property tax rate remains unchanged.
Nonetheless, property owners will be paying a total of $2.263 million from property taxes — an aggregate 9.72 percent more than this year, thanks to increased property values.
City officials are proposing a rate of $2.20 per $1,000 of assessed, taxable property. A resident with a home valued at $150,000 with a $50,000 homestead exemption would pay $220 in city taxes.
The second largest source of general fund income for the city is parking fees and tickets. The city anticipates taking in $1.7 million in 2016 from people parking in John's Pass Village and other city lots.
Other sources of revenue include sales tax funds from Pinellas County and charges for recreation services, utility and franchise fees and taxes.
"This current administration and Board of Commissioners have been labeled as 'spendthrifts.' I disagree," said City Manager Shane Crawford in his budget memo and in comments to the City Commission. "We are doing really well despite the criticisms we have received lately."
Instead, Crawford says he and the city have done "what is needed to do to make up for the inactivity of years prior to 2012."
The proposed 2016-17 city budget that would go into effect Oct. 1 calls for a 4 percent across-the-board salary increase for all employees (except firefighters, who work under a union contract).
Law enforcement spending will be reduced by eliminating one of three community policing deputies.
An ongoing project to bury utilities along the entire length of Gulf Boulevard also will be cut back because of the additional $3 million needed to complete the project.
Some $2 million in projected capital spending — a sharp reduction from the $11.7 million spent in the current fiscal year — will be mostly spent on repairing and upgrading the city's stormwater system.