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St. Pete’s proposed budget includes millions for stormwater system improvements

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

St. Petersburg’s tax rate would drop a bit, water and sewer rates would go up, and spending on the stormwater system would increase under Mayor Rick Kriseman’s proposed budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year.

Kriseman’s recommended budget, released Thursday, totals about $507.7 million. That’s an increase of about $2.1 million, or 0.41 percent, over the current operating budget.

kriseman-rick-tiger-bay-840x440The mayor noted that the city’s public works department, which includes the water and sewer enterprise funds, is about $28.9 percent of the total operating budget, or about $146.9 million. The city’s public safety departments, including police and fire, account for about 28.7 percent of the total operating budget, or about $145.5 million.

Under the proposed budget, Kriseman sees the tax rate dropping from $6.77 per thousand dollars of assessed, taxable value to about $6.76 per thousand dollars of assessed, taxable value.

Although the proposed tax rate would drop slightly, the city would bring in about $7.9 million more in ad valorem taxes next year than it did in the current fiscal year. That would be a total of about $103.4 million in the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. The current fiscal year’s property tax revenue is about $95.6 million. The 8.24 percent increase in property tax income comes from an 8.61 percent increase in property values.

Kriseman said he’s also foreseeing a possible 3.75 percent increase in water rates and a 5.8 percent increase in stormwater rates. Those estimated increases could change before the budget is adopted, Kriseman said, because “ongoing rate studies for both water resources and stormwater will likely impact the rate of increase over what is currently included in this recommended budget.”

Rate increases are also proposed at Twin Brooks and Mangrove Bay golf courses – $1 more for a bucket of balls. This would be the first such increase in nine years.

Boat owners could also see a 3 percent increase in the price of slip rentals at the city marina.

The proposed $103.9 million capital improvements budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year includes about $58.5 million in the water resources department. That’s about 56 percent of the overall CIP proposed budget. That includes $22 million to renovate the Southwest Water Reclamation Facility to increase the capacity. This will help, Kriseman said, to help avert overflows during heavy rains. Also included is $2 million for sewer pipe rehabilitation and $500,000 for manhole rehabilitation. Kriseman also included $8 million for relining of pipes. Kriseman said the $8 for pipe relining will be an annual line item.

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