Sheriff's Department May Solve the Clearwater Budget Crisis
By Anne McKay Garris
It went by so fast, you almost could have missed it. At Tuesday's special session to discuss the budget, the Clearwater City Council reluctantly agreed to ask staff to look into placing the City's policing activities under the Pinellas County Sheriff's Department. One clearly stated condition was that the Sheriff's estimate would include the level of service Clearwater now has. The City would like evidence to substantiate the claim that the City could save $10 million by this one move. If this turns out to be feasible, it would solve the problem of what to do about the 2010/2011-budget deficit of $7.6 million.
Councilmember John Doran, "in order to get the discussion started" at the budget meeting, pointed out that, in order to balance next year's budget without raising taxes, the City would have to close 3 libraries and 3 recreation centers and use $790,000 from the surplus fund. "Last year," he said, "we spent six agonizing months working on this. I want to take it off the table right now and then begin to see how we can buy it back."
One item in the budget which Council could do something about is the over $1 million which is reserved each year to be spent only in Downtown Clearwater. Called the Tax Increment Financing fund, or TIF, it was initiated by a City Commission over thirty years ago to be used for redevelopment of Downtown.
Another item is the $18 million in the General Fund, marked surplus and unavailable, by Council decree, to be used for on-going expenses.
Return to Current Edition