LARGO – The city of Largo has published a proposed budget of almost $131.5 million for the 2015 fiscal year as of July 1.
The budget is available for review at Largo City Hall or can be downloaded from the city’s website at www.largo.com. Use the link bit.ly/Lrgbudget to find the “Budget & CIP” page.
The city’s finance advisory board began reviewing the budget July 7. They will meet three more times to discuss the budget, on Mondays, July 14, 21 and 28, 6 p.m., in the community room of City Hall, 201 Highland Ave. The meetings are open to the public.
During a public meeting Tuesday, July 15, 6 p.m., the Largo Commission will establish the maximum property tax rate to be included in the Pinellas County Truth In Millage, or TRIM, notices.
The commission will review the budget in a work session scheduled for Friday, Aug. 8, 12:30 p.m. After that, both the tax rate and the budget must be passed in two public hearings, scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 4, 6 p.m., and Tuesday, Sept. 16, 6 p.m.
The proposed budget projects a 5 percent increase in property tax revenue. Property values in Largo are projected to increase 3.9 percent, which will make up the majority of the revenue increase.
However, City Manager Mac Craig also recommends increasing the property tax rate, which currently is 5.22 mills, or $5.22 per $1,000 in taxable value. The recommended rate is 5.3 mills or $5.30 per $1,000 in taxable value. The rate increase, on top of increased property values, means the city would collect $945,500 more for the general fund.
The budget for the general fund – which is the primary source for police, fire, parks and library operations, among others – is projected just over $10.8 million, a 10.8 percent increase over last year.
For the first time since 2008, the city is not projecting any service reductions. In fact, the proposed budget includes staff increases. The city would grow its information technology staff to meet increased technology needs as well as the purchase of a new city website in the upcoming year. The fire rescue and community development departments also would grow to accommodate increased development activity within the city. Finally, the police department is requesting funding for another police officer as well as a part-time library security guard.
While overall personnel and operating costs would increase by about $1.6 million and $2.2 million respectively, the city’s total budget for the upcoming year would decrease in the proposed budget. This is primarily because the city plans to spend almost $7.8 million less in capital projects.
City management is not recommending reopening the library on Sundays, which was a goal the commissioners requested last year.