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Saturday, Jun 23, 2018
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Tampa council approves $831 million budget

TAMPA — Tampa City Council gave tentative approval to Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s 2014 city budget on Monday, despite criticism that it doesn’t adequately address the needs of the city’s homeless population.

“Not one dime, not one nickel is going to the homeless situation we’ve been addressing for two years,” Councilman Frank Reddick said.

City Finance Director Sonya Little said the budget includes subsidies to non-profits that serve the homeless. Those subsidies are largely unchanged from the current budget that ends Sept. 30.

“Nothing went up,” Reddick said.

Councilwoman Lisa Montelione noted that much of the money the city puts into homeless agencies comes from federal and state programs.

“But we don’t have any skin in the game, and I think that’s what we’re looking for,” she said. “There are a lot of good things in the budget, but I think we’re falling a bit short.”

Council members voted 6-0 to approve the budget at Monday’s first reading. Councilwoman Yvonne Yolie Capin was absent. The council’s final public hearing on the 2014 budget will be on Sept. 25.

The $831 million budget includes $354.4 million for the city’s day-to-day operations, a $7.3 million bump from the current budget. The budget takes effect Oct. 1.

Buckhorn has proposed adding $350,000 to the city’s code enforcement operations for next year. The increase includes two new code officers in addition to two he added this year.

The budget also includes an across-the-board 2 percent raise for city employees.

Buckhorn has earmarked major improvements to several city parks in 2014, including Perry Harvey Sr. Park just northeast of downtown and Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park on the west bank of the Hillsborough River.

Rising property values added about $7 million in new tax revenue to city coffers even as the city’s tax rate -- $5.73 per $1,000 in taxable value – remains unchanged for the seventh year in a row.

The increase reversed the slide in property taxes that began after the 2008 housing market collapse.

Those new revenues weren’t enough to offset higher costs for fuel, health care and electricity. They also couldn’t compensate for an expected $2 million drop in income from the city’s red-light camera program and $3.4 million less from the Tampa Convention Center, thanks to several military-related conventions canceled because of the federal budget cuts known as sequestration.

Still, city officials used the new revenues to pare down the $19.2 million deficit they expected for 2014. After shaving $2.7 million from city departments and making other reductions, Buckhorn had to draw another $7.5 million from the city’s reserves to balance his budget.

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