LARGO -- Largo's commissioners got a preview of the proposed shuttle trolley designed to accommodate large events at Central Park preceding its workshop meeting Tuesday.
The shuttle will carry patrons from remote parking sites to the park event. Most likely to be used as satellite parking areas are the Pinellas School Board lot, Largo High School, Largo Middle School and Largo Central Elementary School.
Also on the agenda Tuesday was an update on the Northwest redevelopment sewer project.
Of more proximate and pertinent interest, however, is the number crunching associated with the 2005 budget. The commission meets tonight for the final votes on the millage, expected to be 4.75, and the budget itself.
It appears from a perusal of the city's numbers that some of the city's expenditures are being financed out of savings.
This is the second straight year that Largo has had a millage increase. For 2005, the rate is going up a full mill after a .35 mill increase last year.
Because the city was able to go 11 preceding years without a millage increase, the current increase is exceedingly hard to swallow, especially, obviously, for Mayor Bob Jackson and Commissioners Charlie Harper and Pat Gerard. They voted against it.
The big increase doesn't seem to faze Commissioners Pat Burke and Jean Halvorsen, while Gay Gentry and Harriet Crozier seem to be saying, "okay this time, but no more."
Within the budget itself are several categories of expenditure called "funds." The general fund is the part of the budget getting the most attention right now, but the other categories are living on savings, too.
In the general fund, $56,502,600 is listed as the 2005 expenditure. Revenue is listed at $54,967,200. That leaves a $1,535,400 shortfall. Where does that come from? The fund balance, or savings.
The same pattern is seen throughout all the categories.
The biggest drawdown is seen in the Local Option Sales Tax (Penny for Pinellas). The fund had a balance of $11,835,000 going into the budget season and another $6,694,000 was expected in revenue.
That fund is being hit with a payout of $12,253,400 this year, representing a payment for the new library. This really does not represent spending savings because these funds were earmarked for that purpose from the beginning. And the LOST fund exists to finance city capital projects.
What is troubling is the drawdown of the fund balance (savings) in the general fund with the shortfall in 2005 representing 2.7 percent of expenditures.
The commission worked very hard looking for places to shave, trim, cut, save in the original proposed $57,595,200 general fund expenditure in the 2005 budget. But even with all their work, they could only cut it by about $1,092,600 -- 1.9 percent.
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