Advertisement
  1. News

With 2015 shortfall looming, Tampa council talks revenue

Published Mar. 14, 2014

TAMPA — The City Council delved into its budget priorities Thursday, but the talk wasn't all about spending.

While a couple of rec centers were mentioned as needing upgrades, the council spent more time on revenue and how to grow it.

What about strengthening code enforcement and creating new methods to collect code enforcement fines? The additional revenue could help defray the costs of inspectors, council members said, and better-kept, more valuable properties would fuel growth in property tax revenue.

Yvonne Yolie Capin said the city should take advantage of the federal government's "EB-5" immigration program. It lets foreigners earn temporary visas — and potentially green cards — by investing $500,000 to $1 million in job-creating projects. And she said the city should put more effort into applying for grants.

"We're leaving money on the table," Capin said.

Council members also mused about costs like fuel, and whether the city could learn from the practice of UPS and Federal Express of continuously remapping service routes that save gasoline by, for example, avoiding left turns.

The council called the special meeting to discuss ways to present its budget priorities to Mayor Bob Buckhorn's staff earlier in the budget process. But after learning that Buckhorn expects to face a revenue shortfall of $10 million to $15 million for next year's budget, members put aside the idea that the city will have extra money to play with in 2015.

"Another year of austerity budgeting," council member Harry Cohen said.

Before the meeting, Buckhorn said council members can influence the budget process, and his administration takes their suggestions for projects in their districts seriously. But in a budget as complex as Tampa's, he said changing one thing can create unintended consequences.

"You can't just take a million bucks from something and put it over here and not have impacts on some other neighborhood," Buckhorn said.

With that in mind, a need often mentioned by council members Thursday was road resurfacing and filling potholes. It is, several said, a constant complaint from constituents.

"The more that we do, the more it exposes how much there is to be done," Cohen said.

Another council priority: safeguarding the city's cash reserves. City Hall has withdrawn from $7.2 million to $7.5 million in each of the last three years to balance the budget. Buckhorn says the $95 million now in reserves are significantly more than what Wall Street lenders expect from a city with a healthy balance sheet. Still, there seems to be little appetite for a fourth trip.

"The city can't afford to go back into reserves," council member Frank Reddick said. "You just can't keep doing that."

Richard Danielson can be reached at (813) 226-3403, Danielson@tampabay.com or @Danielson_Times on Twitter.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Casey Cane, chairman of the Pinellas County Housing Finance Authority. Pinellas County
    An inspector general’s report says he also engaged in "unethical behavior'' as a contractor.
  2. [Getty Images] Gettty Images
  3. This Oct. 20, 2019 image made from video by Twitter user @AthenaRising shows the tornado in Rockwall, TX. The National Weather Service confirmed a tornado touched down in Dallas on Sunday night, causing structural damage and knocking out electricity to thousands. (@AthenaRising via AP) @ATHENARISING  |  AP
    Three people were hospitalized and evaluated for non-life-threatening injuries.
  4.  CHRIS URSO  |  Times
    How closely do you follow the Tampa Bay Times? Take our weekly quiz and find out.
  5. 30-year-old Victor Van Vickery II was arrested last week in the death of 57-year-old Asaad Akar. Mugshots Palm Beach Post
    Fort Lauderdale police records say Vickery and his girlfriend at the time noticed someone peering into her window around midnight on July 2, 2018.
  6. Two large cranes from the Hard Rock Hotel construction collapse come crashing down after being detonated for implosion in New Orleans, Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019. Officials set off thundering explosions Sunday to topple two cranes looming precariously over a partially collapsed hotel in New Orleans, but most of one crane appeared to be left dangling atop the ruined building while the other crashed down. STAFF PHOTO BY DAVID GRUNFELD  |  AP
    “We know that we are safer now than we have been in the past eight days,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell.
  7. American military convoy stops near the town of Tel Tamr, north Syria, Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019. Kurdish-led fighters and Turkish-backed forces clashed sporadically Sunday in northeastern Syria amid efforts to work out a Kurdish evacuation from a besieged border town, the first pull-back under the terms of a U.S.-brokered cease-fire. BADERKHAN AHMAD  |  AP
    They aren’t coming home and the United States isn’t leaving the turbulent Middle East, according to current plans outlined by U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
  8. White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney announces that the G7 will be held at Trump National Doral, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in Washington. EVAN VUCCI  |  AP
    Mulvaney said Trump “still considers himself to be in the hospitality business.”
  9. Pasco County community news TMCCARTY80  |  Tara McCarty
    Pasco County news briefs
  10. Hillsborough County Superintendent Jeff Eakins, left, looks on while school board chair Tammy Shamburger speaks on newly raised concerns of a undiscovered cemetery for indigent African Americans that may be within the vicinity of King High School in Tampa, Florida on Friday, October 18, 2019.  OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement