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City’s budget wins recognitionPinellas Park Beacon - Tampa Bay Newspapers
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City’s budget wins recognition
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Dan C. Katsiyiannis talks about the city’s proposed fiscal budget.
PINELLAS PARK – The $111 million city budget that goes before the City Council this August was written so regular citizens could understand it.

It also received an award from a bi-national organization.

“A person without a financial background can read the first 30 or 40 pages and know how their money is spent,” Dan C. Katsiyiannis, budget director, said.

Ongoing citizen surveys generated by mail and through utility bills indicate that taxpayers appreciate the openness and clarity of the budget.

The recognition came from Government Finance Officers Association with membership in both the United States and Canada. The city budget was cited for the third year in a row.

The 450-page budget is available for perusal at city hall and on the city’s Web site at www.pinellas-park.com/budget.

Katsiyiannis also will explain it Aug. 15 during a special Channel 15 television show.

“We want everyone to know where their tax dollars are going,” Katsiyiannis said. “People should be satisfied that we are holding the line on expenditures while providing quality public service.”

Creating a multimillion-dollar budget takes months of planning, meetings and negotiations. Some proposals are redlined or postponed to another future date. Others are modified.

The annual ritual begins about January when Katsiyiannis and Linda Hopton, budget analyst, collect data from various city divisions. The pair work on audits and special projects when not involved with the budget.

Department officials file reports about expenditures, capital improvements, projections and other actions. City planners and others put everything under a microscope to make solid decisions and recommendations.

“A draft is created and sent to City Manager Michael B. Gustafson,” Katsiyiannis said. “It’s a long and tenuous process.”

The budget then goes to the five-member Citizens Budget Commission for analysis. The council gets it in August of each year. It is generally adopted after two public hearings and implemented in October.

Cost-saving programs come in all forms, including payroll reduction.

“That is generally accomplished through attrition,” Katsiyiannis said. “We don’t furlough since we have great employees and we protect their jobs.”

This year’s budget calls for the same millage rate of 5.0788 per $1,000 of net taxable value, but there will be a tax hike anyway.

“The increase is not our doing,” Katsiyiannis said. “The value of homes and other property is ever-increasing, and taxes are based on values.”

That extra money, about $1.1 million projected for 2005-06 fiscal year, goes toward cost increases for insurance, payroll and other city expenses.

“We are constantly seeking ways to improve the budget and our services to the community,” Katsiyiannis said.
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