tampabay.com

City's chopping list clearer

Reductions in library and recreation hours and special events subsidies are likely.

By AARON SHAROCKMAN
Published June 20, 2007


ST. PETERSBURG -- It likely will cost more to use the city's marina and municipal airport, and popular city sponsored events like First Night and the Festival of States may be pared down.

But the number of police officers and firefighters will not drop, city officials said Tuesday.

With a state-mandated formula for tax relief settled, St. Petersburg leaders are beginning the belt tightening they had fretted for months.

The official list of cuts proposed by Mayor Rick Baker may not be unveiled until Friday, when he meets with the City Council at a daylong workshop. But Baker and city officials offered hints Tuesday of what may be on the chopping block, as well as what probably won't.

The overall target: nearly $14-million.

"It's much easier to go into a really fat budget and start whacking it," said council chairman John Bryan. "We don't have that in St. Petersburg. There aren't many obvious things to grab onto."

PROBABLE CUTS, FEE INCREASES

THE TOUGH CHOICES

WHAT WON'T BE CUT

Aaron Sharockman can be reached at asharockman@sptimes.com or (727) 892-2273.

Fast facts: Impact on taxpayers unclear

If the city's cutting about $14-million, how much savings should I see on my tax bill?

It's hard to say yet. Of the $14-million the city says it needs to cut, only about $8-million will be returned in the way of lower property taxes. The other money is needed to offset mandated increases from higher insurance premiums to union-negotiated pay increases. Mayor Rick Baker said he has yet to settle on a tax rate for the next budget year, which begins Oct. 1.