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Tax board must dip into savings

Last year homeowners voted down a proposed tax increase. Now the board cannot cover expenses.

By TIM GRANT

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 16, 2000


CARROLLWOOD -- The Original Carrollwood special tax board has stopped short of saying, "We told you so, but . . ."

Last year, when board members tried to get homeowners to vote for a tax increase that would have raised the annual household assessment from $300 to a maximum of $550 a year, the idea was rejected in a referendum.

Now the failed vote has come back to haunt this community.

The cost of operating the district and making planned improvements to its facilities exceeds revenues. The district has no other choice but to tap into its savings account to meet the $154,000 deficit.

This will leave the community savings account with a balance of $106,000, which is the minimum acceptable level, according to the board.

The board had planned to ask for another tax increase in November, but instead decided to consult with professional advisers and develop a master plan for the future of Original Carrollwood.

The plan itself will cost $25,000, but the board says a long-range strategy will help persuade residents to support the next tax referendum it will propose in November 2001.

Community improvements in this year's budget include $138,000 for an irrigation system, repaving the parking lot at the recreation center, new playground equipment, a pavilion and new tables and grills in the Original Carrollwood Park at Orange Grove and McFarland roads.

This year's budget represents a $113,000 increase from last year.

In other business, the board voted Monday to end a requirement that the recreation district office manager live in the neighborhood.

Last month, the office manager was fired. A temporary replacement has been found, but the job will be vacant in August.

"I'm beginning to feel it would not be a bad idea to have someone in that position who does not live here," said board member Tracey Howell. "I've talked to people from other neighborhoods and they are doing fine with office managers who don't live there."

-- To reach Tim Grant call 226-3471, or e-mail him at grant@sptimes.com.

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