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Special taxing districts escape cuts
Seven of the city's nine taxing districts will receive more property tax money next year than they did this year.
By JANET ZINK
Published July 19, 2007
TAMPA - While the city of Tampa is slicing millions of dollars and hundreds of jobs in the wake of property tax reform, some parts of the city will actually get to spend more property tax money next year.
Budget figures show Tampa's special taxing districts receiving about $3.2-million more next year than this year.
It's because the state-mandated rollback is based on property values and tax collections throughout the city.
But property values in the special taxing districts, created to boost redevelopment in blighted neighborhoods, increased faster than the rest of the city from 2006 to 2007 - about 16 percent compared to 10 percent.
The faster growth in these districts isn't surprising, said Mark Huey, Tampa's economic development manager.
"Because they're starting at such a relatively low level, they grow exponentially in relation to the rest of the city," he said. "That's why we create them in the first place."
Tampa has nine special taxing districts that cover such neighborhoods as east Tampa, Drew Park, the Channel District and downtown.
Advisory boards suggest how to spend the money, and the City Council approves the districts' budgets.
Increases in property tax revenue collected in those areas are funneled back into the neighborhoods to pay for sidewalks, lighting, new drainage systems, marketing and other efforts to boost economic development and private sector investments.
Seven of nine districts will receive more money next year than this year, with downtown and east Tampa getting increases of more than $1-million each. East Tampa received $5.3-million in 2007. Next year, the area will receive $6.3-million.
Sam Kinsey, chairman of the East Tampa Community Revitalization Partnership, calls that good news - sort of.
"The reductions didn't hurt us as badly as they could have, but they still hurt," he said.
Without property tax reform, east Tampa would have received another $746,931. Even so, Kinsey said, "We're coming out better than city government as a whole."
The city has to trim about $20-million from its projected 2008 budget because of the state reform measures. Mayor Pam Iorio announced last month that most of those cuts - about $15-million - would come from eliminating 369 jobs. Many positions were vacant, but 121 people lost their jobs.
Iorio is scheduled to present her final budget to the Tampa City Council Aug. 2.