Largo To Hold Millage at Rolled Back Rate
by Leo Coughlin
LARGO - Indications are that the City Commission will go with the rolled back rate of 4.3113 as the millage rate for fiscal year 2010.
At its meeting Tuesday night - the first of two meetings this week - to review the budget for the new fiscal year that begins October 1 it appeared that the commission will stick with the rate it tentatively set in July.
Amy Davis, who runs the budget office, gave a very careful and thorough examination of the budget in her introduction and the commission heard Finance and Advisory Board recommendations that aligned with the analysis already produced by Davis and other city officials.
Departments heard from Tuesday night were Administration, Community Development, Environmental Services, Finance, Fire Rescue and General Operating.
To be heard at tonight's meeting, a continuation of the review, are Human Resources, Information Technology, Legislative, Library, Police, Public Works and Recreation, Parks and Art which, of course, has the biggest budget of all, a whopping $25 million.
That kind of allocation of public tax money obviously reveals that whoever is running Largo puts more importance and emphasis on entertainment (the Cultural Center costs $1,000 a day over and above normal budgeting) than any other city function.
The budget under consideration by the commission totals $138,797,000 with $60,993,800 allocated to the general fund.
A 10.5 percent reduction in property values cost the city $1.6 million in tax revenue, based on the current 3.8448 millage rate.
On top of that, revenue sharing from the county, state and other incidental taxes was down severely because of the economic situation.
The commission set a maximum millage rate of 4.3113 in July, which is the rolled back rate. This is the rate that will produce the same amount of tax revenue as the previous year (2009).
At that rate, there would generally be no tax increase for Largo property owners, figuring increases and decreases on the bottom line - how much goes out of your pocket.
Altogether, the budget put together for 2010 has a $3.5 million reduction in outlays that includes a layoff of 13.31 full time employees.
There is no pay increase for city employees. (Commission members will also forsake any raise, based on a colloquy among them at last week's meeting.)
In approving a measure last week that would send to referendum a change in the city Charter respecting election procedures, the commission approved a 15-day qualifying period for candidates.
The current qualification time is 60 days.
Despite the apparent glaring difference in allowing time to qualify, actually candidates can obtain the necessary petition cards 45 days before the qualifying period begins. A candidate must have 200 petition cards properly signed by registered voters.
Mayor Pat Gerard was distressed that the public will misunderstand the change and mistakenly believe that the time for collecting cards is limited to 15 days. Not true. The total time remains 60 days. There is basically very little change in the process.
One amusing sidelight that goes on with the machinations of the commission and often overlooked by the public, is the "boondoggle" aspect.
The Florida League of Cities (a non-governmental entity and actually an insurance company) has its annual conference beginning today and running through Saturday.
City Manager Mac Craig is attending and asked to be the "voting delegate" from Largo. But Commissioner Rodney Woods, who loves trips at city expense, asked to be the delegate. He was chosen. So Largo will have two representatives at the FLC orgy at taxpayer expense.
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