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Tarpon proposing $3-million in capital projects

The budget plan includes drainage, sidewalk and sewer upgrades. City leaders will also consider reducing the property tax rate 4.8 percent.

By KATHERINE GAZELLA

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 27, 2000


TARPON SPRINGS -- Tarpon Springs officials are proposing a city budget for next year that includes dozens of projects meant to improve drainage, sidewalks and sewers.

The city's overall budget for fiscal year 2001 is still being worked on, but the proposed capital improvements budget includes more than $3-million worth of projects.

A total of $584,000 would be spent on drainage, including improvements to Levis, Walton, Tarpon and Disston avenues and Bath, Center and Lemon streets.

Other projects include $500,000 for sewer and manhole relining, $200,000 for street repaving, $267,000 for improvements at the wastewater treatment plant, and $150,000 for sidewalk construction.

"It's a lot of nuts and bolts," City Manager Ellen Posivach said.

The funding for the proposed capital improvements projects comes from the Penny for Pinellas sales tax, gasoline taxes and various impact fees. City commissioners will discuss the projects and a proposed property tax rate at a workshop tonight at 6:30 at City Hall, 324 E Pine St. in Tarpon Springs. The 2001 fiscal year will start Oct. 1.

The city is tentatively proposing a property tax rate that is the same as this year's rate, about $5.20 in tax for every $1,000 of assessed, non-exempt property value. But when a final budget is passed for the year, the rate may go down to $4.95 per $1,000 of taxable property, a 4.8 percent reduction.

The city's draft budget for fiscal year 2001 is based on the $4.95 rate, and the city may end up using that rate in the end, said Jeff Rosencrans, finance director for the city. If the city used $4.95 as the tentative rate, though, notices would have to go out to each property owner if the city raised the proposed rate, he said.

Under the $5.20 rate, the owner of a $100,000 home with a $25,000 homestead exemption would pay $390 in city property taxes. With the $4.95 rate, that homeowner would pay about $371. That amount does not include other taxes levied by the county or school district.

The county is proposing a tax rate of $6.75 per $1,000 of taxable property value for city residents.

In the past two years, the city has spent millions of dollars completing capital improvement projects, including dredging of the Anclote River main channel, restoration of the columns at the Cultural Center and some portions of the Safford House restoration.

In fiscal year 1999, the city spent more than $8-million on capital improvements and is on course to spend nearly $6-million in the current fiscal year. Posivach said more money was spent in those years because several projects had rolled over from earlier years and were completed in 1999 and 2000.

Other proposed projects in the 2001 capital improvements budget include:

$22,000 for renovation of the old train depot.

$15,000 for the annual installation of new water meters.

$40,000 for a sound system at the Sponge Docks.

$25,000 for the Spring Bayou seawall.

$125,000 for improvements at North Anclote Park.

Commissioners will vote on the budget at a meeting to be scheduled later this summer.

- Katherine Gazella can be reached at (727) 445-4205 or at gazella@sptimes.com.

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