E-mail sent to Largo Mayor and Commissioners - Budget
I read in today's paper that you are thinking of raising taxes. I've read in previous weeks that the school board, and Pinellas County, (where my business is), are also thinking of raising taxes.
I am writing this letter today to tell you that I can't carry anyone else. I own a restaurant in an unincorporated section of Clearwater. My business, which I have operated for over 30 years, is down over 15 %. This is the only time other than 9/11 that my business has fallen. I can be okay. I run a good restaurant, and have tightened everything as tight as I can. I have cut every bit of fat (no pun intended) that was available.
While I haven't laid off any employees, I have reduced their hours some, and wages a little. I am not making money during the summer at all. All I am doing is trading dollars, while keeping my employees busy. To be frank, if my taxes go up, where should I get the money from? I'll have to reduce my business hours, maybe put an apron back on, and let some employees go. Any extra dollars you might make from me, will be more than offset by lost sales (during early morning, and late evening when I'm really not doing enough business to cover my overhead), less taxes from the unemployed employees, and less taxes from the unemployed employees not having money to spend. My utility bills will be reduced, resulting in even less franchise taxes coming in to your coffers.
My taxes on both of my properties went up last year. If they go up again, something will have to give. Please don't try to rationalize that you need it for the public good. If you don't have it you'll have to do without, just like me.
I live a mile away from the new Eagle Park being built on Keene, and Belleair, at a cost of over 8 millions dollars. While I would love to visit this park, and it looks beautiful, things like that aren't worth anything to the unemployed. Give business, and taxpayers a break, and this economic downturn will turn around. Tax us more, and you will end up getting less, in the short run, and the long run. I've heard that people don't want services cut, but you will have to cut something.
I would begin by cutting garbage service to once a week. Less Holiday decorations, we could have skipped the fireworks, or had someone donate the fireworks. Don't move the clock tower. Don't build a new community center. We all have to sacrifice somewhere, but we also have limits to what we could do.
- Steve Trizis
To: Steve Trizis:
Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and concerns with me.
Please be assured that every member of the City Commission is very sensitive to the challenges being faced by both residents and business owners during these difficult economic times. Our role is to balance the service demands of our constituents with their willingness and ability to pay for those services with taxes and fees. During our review of the City Manager's proposed budget, we will need to make a decision regarding the tax rate for next year. The proposed budget is based on continuing the current tax rate. The actual adoption of the budget and property tax rate requires two public hearings, which are scheduled for September 3rd and 17th at 6 p.m. in Largo City Hall; you are encouraged to attend.
I would like to briefly respond to some of the other issues you raised in your e-mail. Eagle Lake Park, which is at the corner of Keene and Belleair Roads, is a Pinellas County park; the City of Largo made no financial contribution to its purchase, construction, or future operating costs. Solid Waste collection is funded solely from user fees and is accounted for in an account separate from any tax revenues. While we incurred costs for Recreation and Police personnel, the $15,000 cost of the fireworks on July 4th was donated by the owner of the Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn Express adjacent to Largo Central Park. The clock tower corner reconstruction and the new Community Center will both be funded using Penny for Pinellas sales tax revenue, which is restricted to construction projects and public safety vehicles. Both of these projects will generate private sector jobs to help our local economy. The new Community Center is being designed with a focus on energy efficiency to reduce future operating costs.
I hope this answers some of your questions; however, please feel free to contact my office at any time with your questions, comments, and/or concerns.
- Patricia S. Gerard, Mayor, City of Largo
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