ST. PETE BEACH — Despite plans to spend more than $20 million on capital projects next year, the City Commission is holding firm on property tax rates.
Even so, property owners will see an average 7.49 percent increase in their property tax bills, thanks to an improving economy and increased property values.
The city expects to keep the rate of $3.15 per $1,000 of assessed, taxable property value.
For example, a home with an after-exemptions value of $300,000 would pay $945 in city taxes. Other property taxes levied by the county, the School Board, and other agencies would make that bill much higher.
The city expects to receive $7.2 million in property tax revenues, about an 8 percent increase over last year, largely because of $12.6 million in new home and business construction that has come onto the tax rolls during 2015.
Other sources of revenue — state and utility taxes and fees, franchise fees, grants, parking fees, court fees and fines, event and facility rental fees — bring the city's total operating budget to $16.8 million, an increase of more than $800,000 over this year's budget.
Most city employees are projected to receive a 2.5 percent pay hike. Firefighter pay is regulated by contract.
Employee pay rates are slated to be reviewed and updated by a consultant next year. The consultant is being paid $20,000.
Legal fees, which in past years have totaled in the millions, are expected to reach $300,000 next year, about a 28 percent drop from the current year, largely because of the settlement of a lawsuit over the city's comprehensive plan.
Planned capital projects total $14.5 million, funded largely by a $13 million bond issue. Projects include reconstructing Pass-a-Grille Way, which is expected to take about 18 months to complete; demolition of the now-closed police station; new carpet in City Hall; street and alley improvements; and improvements to various parks and city facilities.
In addition, the city is expected to spend about $8 million for rehabilitation, repair and new construction for its wastewater and stormwater systems.
The commission has held several workshops to review the budget, but has made only minor changes, primarily to the type of organizations it donates to.
The budget and property tax rate will be formally adopted in September, after public hearings on Sept. 9 and Sept. 22.