County Budget Woes Get Bigger
By Bill Lopez
A Pinellas County graph depicts what a recession looks like on paper.
PINELLAS COUNTY - The county budget now has a new forecast. On Tuesday Pinellas County released numbers that have government officials concerned about service levels provided to the public including police, schools, infrastructure and business development and general services.
The news came from newly appointed County Administrator Bob LaSala at the County Commissioners meeting in Clearwater. LaSala focused on the fiscal year 2010 that begins this coming October and ends Sept. 30, 2010. He forecasts lower revenues suggesting a reduction in activity and programs through 2010 and beyond for all of Pinellas County.
Things like repair of drawbridges, police vehicle purchases and even school programs will likely be cut back, delayed, or even canceled. New hires are most certainly in a reduced state already as county officials come to understand the dynamics of declining revenues.
County Administrator Bob LaSala presented the budget as County Commissioners face the new realities that also baffle local and state governments. His proposed 15% to 20% reduction in general fund spending would bring county spending back to what it was five years ago.
The major source of county revenue comes from property taxes that have declined significantly since 2007. Other income sources include the half-cent sales tax, revenue sharing, cost recovery, interest and user fees. The countywide "Taxable Values--Annual Rate of Change" graph illustrates the acute nature of the sea change faced by Pinellas County (see exhibit).
Contact Bill Lopez at email@example.com.
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