TAMPA — Mayor Jane Castor and city officials presented a nearly $1.9 billion budget to City Council members on Thursday, emphasizing affordable housing as the top priority.
The mayor’s budget would set aside $25.5 million for housing assistance. But some council members suggested there will be further discussions about the proposed allocation, which one resident described as a “slap in the face.”
“I wanted more money,” council member Lynn Hurtak said. “I expect to talk quite a bit about that in the workshop.”
“With regards to the present storm that others have mentioned — affordable housing — it’s good to see funds in that,” council member Luis Viera said. “This is a large overview of the budget, so we’ll get more into the weeds.”
Some of the housing funding would go toward conducting a housing study and adding employees in the city’s development and economic opportunity department, which oversees housing. The budget also includes $400,000 to fulfill the council’s request for tenant advocacy, according to Dennis Rogero, the city’s chief financial officer.
“It will help us tackle this housing crisis quicker, more efficiently and with added accountability,” Castor said.
Tampa has committed to providing 10,000 affordable housing units by 2027, and the city is more than halfway there, according to Castor.
City council members also voted last week to move forward with putting rent control on the November ballot. If voters approve it, the city would be allowed to cap rent increases.
Another major item on the proposed budget are pay increases, to the cost of $35.2 million in the next year. City council members tentatively approved 18.5% in raises over three years to Tampa’s police officers, firefighters and other union workers. Nonunion professionals and supervisors could also see a 9.5% raise next year and managers a 6% increase.
“Tampa’s Consumer Price Index has spiked higher than most anywhere in the country,” Castor said. “I felt it important to stand behind the men and women who serve our residents so well.”
Castor’s proposed budget includes just more than $650 million for the next fiscal year for roads, sewer work and other infrastructure. It includes over $300 million for the PIPES program, designed to replace aging water and sewage pipes, over $100 million for solid waste and $46 million for parks and recreation. The proposal also includes $33 million in funding for vehicles, including electric vehicle charging stations and police and fire rescue equipment.
A budget workshop is scheduled for Aug. 16. A public hearing will take place on Sept. 6 and a final adoption on Sept. 20. The next fiscal year begins Oct. 1.