St. Pete residents may see their tax increased to close budget gap

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Thursday’s City Council Workshop on the fiscal year 2013 budget proposed higher taxes, fees and assessments just to maintain St. Petersburg as the city faces a $13 million budget shortfall.

St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster concurs with city council members in the assertion that this budget shortfall cannot be met by cuts alone. A realistic solution includes a combination of strategic cuts matched with increasing revenue streams for the city via property taxes and assessments.

Only about $3 million is being recommended in cuts within the city budget. Increased revenue is the central plan for addressing the shortfall. According to Foster, without increased revenues St. Petersburg would be a city “no one up here would support or recognize.”

As reported by Old Northeast-Downtown St. Pete Patch, here are the details outlined by Foster and city staff, presented to the City Council:

Ad Valorem By the Numbers

  • Ad valorem covers 60 percent of the public safety costs
  • Compared to Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville, St. Petersburg brings in the lowest amount of property taxes at $69.6 million
  • St. Pete’s property taxes have not covered the police budget since fiscal year 2009. The police budget for fiscal year 2012 is $86.2 million and property tax revenues were $69.6 million
  • The millage rate has gone unchanged since 2008 at 5.195 mils. Since that time the average homeowner pays almost $300 less in city property taxes 

Millage Increase Impact

  • Should the city keep the millage rate the same next year, the average property tax change on a $100,000 home is St. Pete would decrease by $18.29.
  • A .15 mil increase would result in a decrease of $3.29. That mil increase, according to city documents, would still bring in less property taxes than the year before because of declining property values.
  • A .50 mil increase over the current millage would result in an increase of $31.71 on a $100,000 home.

Mayor Foster expressed that he is fully encouraging public input on the budget process. To this end, Foster will host a city budget summit at 6:00 p.m., Wednesday, August 25 at the J.W. Cate Recreation Center at 5801 22nd Ave. N. The purpose of the summit is to provide a platform for the public to vopice their opinions, concerns and help set priorities.

Via Daphne Street, contributing correspondent. Daphne can be reached at dts.streetmedia@gmail.com.

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.