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Oldsmar budget brings no pain

A state-mandated tax cut makes little difference because of several factors.

By TERRI BRYCE REEVES, Times Staff Writer
Published August 3, 2007


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OLDSMAR - City employees will get raises.

The alternative water supply project is moving ahead.

Even the 1997 model Fire Engine 54 will get a $175,000 refurbishing.

In Oldsmar, everything looks rosy - at least for now.

"Things could have been a lot worse," City Manager Bruce Haddock told the City Council on Tuesday when he presented it with the proposed budget for fiscal year 2007-08.

It totals $31.9-million - that's about $4-million less than the 2006-07 financial plan.

"We would have likely had a decrease anyway, but not quite that much," Haddock said after the meeting.

Some of the budget reduction can be attributed to decreases in several funds, including capital improvements. For instance, last year's budget incorporated a hefty $5-million for the new library.

Because of the recent tax cut legislation, the city's tax rate will be reduced 11 percent, from $4.60 to $4.07 per $1,000 of assessed, nonexempt value. This means owners of a $150,000 home with a $25,000 homestead exemption will pay $509 in city taxes in 2008, down from $575 this year.

The city budget benefited from annexations, construction and an 8.3 percent increase in property tax values. The city's unique mix also helped.

"Oldsmar has a large commercial and industrial tax base that puts us in a better position than communities that are largely residential," Haddock said. "The services to the public will remain pretty much the same as what we've been doing.

"The big question is, what happens with the constitutional amendment on the ballot in January," he said, referring to the referendum to create a super homestead exemption.

This year the city will pass out $127,000 in salary adjustments to employees, which officials said was necessary to keep wages competitive with other municipalities. Also, employees will be eligible for up to a 4 percent merit pay raise. The city has budgeted 10 percent more for health and dental coverage. And two new part-timers are joining the staff.

Capital improvement projects include $3.5-million for drilling production wells for the city's reverse osmosis water supply project. City parks will receive $800,000 in enhancements.

Hayes Road, near the fire station, will be extended to connect Pine Avenue and Douglas Road. Gull Aire Village will have streets resurfaced, and some areas of the Town Center residential district will receive reclaimed water. The Sellers Industrial Park will see street paving and drainage improvements.

A streetscaping project is planned for State Street between St. Petersburg Drive and Clarendon Street, subject to council approval.

About $750,000 has been set aside for restoration of the historic Oldsmar Bank Building, current home of the library.

During the meeting, council members tossed out money-saving ideas for the future.

Some commissioners expressed concern about an ordinance that requires the city to chip in 1 percent of construction costs of new buildings for public art. Because of the requirement, the city will have to pay for about $50,000 worth of art for the $5-million library, scheduled to open during the upcoming holiday season.

"We could go to the flea market and get really cheap art instead," said Vice Mayor Suzanne Vale.

Terri Bryce Reeves can be reached at treeves@tampabay.rr.com

[Last modified August 2, 2007, 21:53:46]


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