Public input requested for reductions to City's 2012 spending plan

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City leaders strongly encourage residents to prioritize city services at three public budget summits as they consider reductions to the city’s proposed FY12 spending plan. The first of those summits will be held Wednesday, April 27 at Willis S. Johns Recreation Center, 6635 Dr. MLK Jr. St. N. at 6 p.m.

The city is facing a $12 million shortfall, largely caused by a projected eight percent drop in property tax revenue in 2012. Mayor Bill Foster admits it will be difficult to balance next year’s budget without affecting the quality of services the city provides its residents. The city has already experienced significant reductions in the last four fiscal years.

“It is an economic reality. Citizens will see decreases in city services next year. Where those reductions come from remains to be seen, but citizen participation is crucial if they want to continue receiving the same high level of quality service from the city.” The mayor will submit his budget proposal to City Council July 1.

Residents have two other opportunities following the April 27 summit to offer suggestions regarding the FY12 budget. Other summits are scheduled for:

?ay 18 at Azalea Center, 1600 72nd St. N.;
?nd June 22 at Lake Vista Center, 1401 62nd St. S.

All of the summits will include a brief presentation on the proposed FY12 spending shortfall from Budget Director Tim Finch and remarks by Mayor Foster. All three summits begin at 6 p.m.

A public hearing is tentatively scheduled for September 8 at City Hall for City Council to consider adopting the proposed budget and tax rate. Council is expected to give final approval to the budget, tax rate and Capital Improvement Program during a public hearing tentatively scheduled for September 22, also at City Hall.

For more information about the proposed FY12 budget, a budget timeline, and prior city budgets, visitwww.stpete.org/Budget.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.