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Pinellas tax rate expected to stay the same

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Pinellas property owners can expect their county property tax rate to remain the same in the coming fiscal year, according to County Administrator Mark Woodard.

The current tax rate is about $5.28 per thousand dollars of assessed, taxable property value. A homeowner with a house worth $150,000 with a $50,000 homestead exemption will pay about $528 in county property taxes.

Woodard made the prediction Thursday morning during a budget workshop with county commission members. He also unveiled a list totaling $15.7 million in recommended new expenditures for the 2016-17 budget that goes into effect Oct. 1.

“This is not final,” Woodard told commissioners. “This is my seeking your input.”

The budget will not become final until the commission gives its final approval in September. Before then, Woodard said, commissioners will have several opportunities to weigh in and change the overall proposal.

But Thursday’s workshop concentrated on new expenditures that would be added to the overall county budget, which stands at about $2.06 billion for the current fiscal year. Various agencies had requested about $24.1 million in additional funds.

“We don’t have the resources to fund all of those needs and priorities,” Woodard said.

Instead, he recommended funding about $15.7 million of them. These were 30 items he described as constitution an “incremental restoration of services (eliminated in the recent recession) within the resources that are available. This is a balancing act.”

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri was the big winner. About 60 percent of the funding when to items he had requested, including $1.3 million for helicopter maintenance, $2.5 million for training costs, and $5 million for new cars.

The $5 million for the new cars exceeded Gualtieri’s request of $1.8 million for vehicles. But Woodard explained the $1.8 million was a recurring payment for leased vehicles. The $5 million would be earmarked to purchase new vehicles. Once the sheriff’s fleet has converted to owned vehicles, the $1.8 million recurring cost would disappear.

Also on the list: about $1.6 million for services to the homeless, $100,000 for the Lealman Community Redevelopment Agency, $253,000 for recreational programming in the unincorporated area, $155,200 to the Supervisor of Elections for the presidential general election.

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