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    City adopts budget, higher tax

    By JENNIFER FARRELL, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published September 21, 2002

    CLEARWATER -- City commissioners on Thursday approved a $323-million spending plan for next year.

    The budget for the 2002-2003 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, raises the city's property tax rate by 4.5 percent, the first such increase in three years.

    Under the new tax rate of $5.75 for every $1,000 of taxable property value, the owner of a home valued at the city average of $91,740, with a $25,000 homestead exemption, would pay about $384 in city taxes, up $16.68 from the current rate.

    The biggest chunk of the budget is the city's $93-million general fund, which receives property taxes and other revenues and pays for nuts-and-bolts city operations such as libraries and police patrols. About half of the general fund goes to the city's Police and Fire departments.

    The general fund's expenses are nearly 6 percent higher this year, a jump attributed largely to staffing new city facilities and paying for wage and insurance increases.

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