Budget Woes Topic of Discussion by Largo Commissioners
By Kari Jo M. Rodgers
LARGO - With high budget cuts, and having to make decisions of where current money should be distributed, there are still disagreements as to how Largo's money should be spent.
One of these disagreements was mentioned when $700,000 was requested to be authorized from the "the local option sales tax fund" to the "Downtown tax increment Financing Fund," in order to purchase property and take care of any demolition costs. Although the motion passed for the money to be repaid by May 2009, Commissioner Mary Black disagreed with the decision. She told everyone that "for the record, she did not support the purchase of property by the city, and she did not think that the city should be in the real estate business."
Another money matter that was questioned was the approval of providing clean sewer service to a commercial property located outside city limits, but within the city's sewer district. The owners of the property would pay $2,995 and a 25-percent surcharge, since they are located outside of the area. While it was said that there would be no negative impact to the city, Commissioner Rodney Woods asked, "if they were able to track the amount of water used from the sewer system within the last five to ten years?" He was told that they were not up to using 18 million gallons a day yet, and that currently 16 millions gallons a day was being used. He was also told that "Tampa Bay Engineering" had built a hydraulic model to make sure there is " no overdoing of capacity." In the end, the motion passed.
The "Florida Department of Transportation" also wanted more money, in order to better maintain some of the roads in Largo. Previously they had negotiated a 40-percent increase of funds for this purpose, but claimed that they should be provided with more money, in order to maintain roads, because they exceeded minimum standards. This maintenance would include everything from mowing the lawn to litter clean up. Commissioner Woody Brown moved to approve the motion, and the motion passed for a $35,942.30 increase in funds.
Toward the end of the meeting, Commissioner Harriett Crozier had a question about the TMDL "Total Maximum Daily Loads" Reduction Program." It is required by the "Federal Department of Environmental Protection" that the city prepares and sets into motion a "watershed management plan." The cost for the project is estimated to be $450,000. Commissioner Crozier asked if this could possibly be done at a later date, so that sewer rates would not be affected. (Sewer rates change every three years.) City Manager Mac Craig said that while it will be addressed at a future meeting, the project is likely to proceed. If these costs have not already been calculated into the rate structure, citizens could soon end up paying a higher sewer bill then expected.
To learn more about Largo's future budget decisions, be sure to keep reading the Clearwater Gazette.
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