Largo's City Budget Under Review for 2008/2009
By Kari Jo M. Rodgers
Just like other cities around the area, Largo is also trying to figure out exactly how they are going to use the money that they have in their budget this year. Different people have their own opinions on how the money should be used.
With a $3,000,000 budget reduction, Largo is under pressure to cut back. In fact, it may mean that some jobs be eliminated.
Commissioners decided to purchase two items that could be used in the event of a storm. These items would include a flatbed dump truck, which costs $59,892, and a Walking Excavator, which costs $291,818, totaling a sum of $351,710. Largo's former Mayor Robert Jackson, suggested that with major budget cuts ahead, it would take 12 years to pay for these items, and further suggested that the sale be "put on the shelf for a later date." Still others felt that they needed to maintain a level of maintenance to make sure that drainages didn't fail.
In other business, former Largo Mayor Robert Jackson also suggested that putting up a statue of Martin Luther King in front of the "Largo Library" be postponed. Other citizens agreed. However, Largo citizen Alec Porter thought that the statue should be built, so that the children could go and see it. Either way, many agreed that the issue should be decided upon quickly by the city commission.
Commissioner Rodney Woods suggested that they turn the matter over to city advisory boards, in order to see what the citizens would like to do. At that point, Commissioner Mary Black commented that she did not think Dr. King "would want us to use him as an idol." Therefore, she motioned that they should honor him instead by putting a relief of MLK on the Library Wall, with costs not to exceed $15,000. Although this was the action taken, not everyone agreed with the outcome. While, Commissioner Harriett Crozier said that "she was through talking about the project," Commissioner Woods said, "This is just a topic that this city or nation just isn't ready to talk about." However, Commissioner Woods also said later that "he was looking forward to moving forward with the tough budget ahead," and the issue ended peacefully.
In relation to this issue, Mayor Pat Gerard said, "The renaming of the library is not something that came from this commission. I saw it for the first time in the paper on Monday."
One of the last issues discussed was inter-fund borrowing. It was suggested that $700,000 be transferred from the sale's tax fund to the "Downtown Tax Increment Financing Fund for property purchases and related demolition costs." However, former Mayor Robert Jackson thought that they should reduce general fund spending, and use "Penny for Pinellas" to pay the loan. Commissioner Black seemed to agree, saying that "we should have funds in things we intend to pay for," and also commenting that instead of borrowing they should wait until the funds were available. In the end, the motion was approved.
The Gazette will continue to follow how Largo commissioners plan to balance the city budget in light of declining revenues.
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