St. Petersburg property tax rate to stay the same

The proposed 2012 total operating budget is $572.803 million, compared to last year’s $520.078 million. The ad valorem revenue and general fund operating budget will both decrease.

“The total operating budget is actually going up and that’s because of the Pier,” Finch said. “The Pier capital project is in 2012, so that bumps that number up quite a bit.”

“We started with a deficit of about $13 million, and solved that problem through a number of ways,” Finch said. Departments in the city looked for ways to cut costs, he said.

The city will mail a notice to residents about the proposed millage rate and public hearings by August 22.

The millage rate peaked in 1990 at 9.6320, and has been steadily declining since 2000, Finch said.

A majority vote could set the rate at 9.0433, a two-thirds vote could bring it to 9.9476, and a unanimous or referendum vote could bring it to 10. Finch said that they were not recommending any of these.

The budget includes position reductions, line item reductions, health insurance self-funding, and a reduction in police and fire pension costs, Finch said. All of the city’s pools, libraries and recreation centers will remain open, and funding to social services and the arts will be maintained. There were no cuts made to the code department.

“Some pretty good things came out of this budget, though it was tough,” Finch said. “I don’t think next year will be any better.”

The proposed 2012 budget includes the use of between $3.5 and $4 million of one-time money—less than the $4.5 million used last year. Despite lower revenue from property taxes, the city should “wean ourselves away from one-time money,” Finch said.

Council member Herbert Polson said several cities in the state are on the verge on bankruptcy, and while St. Petersburg is not in that position, it is not in a sustainable position.

“I don’t believe we are in a sustainable position, that we can continue to cut our way into balancing our budget. We’re using one-time funds—that’s a non-sustainable position,” he said. “I think that we are probably at the last time we’re going to be able to cut our way into a balanced position.”

For more information and to view the city’s proposed operating budget, visit the St. Petersburg city website.

  • Tim Finch, director of Budget and Management

The St. Petersburg City Council voted on July 21 to adopt proposed millage rates for the 2012 fiscal year. The council will hold public hearings about the city’s budget on September 8 and 22 at 6 p.m.

The proposed millage rate for the 2012 fiscal year is 5.9125, the same as the previous year, according to Tim Finch, director of Budget and Management.

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