Proposed Budget Tweaked, First Public Hearing Tonight
By Carl Wagenfohr
CLEARWATER - During Monday's worksession, the Clearwater City Council were presented with several minor adjustments to the city's proposed 2009/10 budget by Budget Director Tina Wilson.
The Jolley Trolley would receive a $150-thousand subsidy from the city's parking fund. The continued existence of the tourism-oriented transportation service on Clearwater Beach had been threatened earlier this year when City Manager Bill Horne eliminated its subsidy from his proposed 2009/10 budget.
General Fund revenues would be increased by $500-thousand by transferring that amount from the city's road millage tax at the expense of reducing the amount of road and sidewalk maintenance the city would be able to do next year.
Two Advanced Life Support (ALS) Fire/rescue units would be reinstated, Rescue 46, stationed on Clearwater Beach, and Rescue 50, stationed in Countryside. The Pinellas County EMS Authority had proposed earlier this year to convert both units to ALS engines having only a single paramedic on board, but will provide the city with $264-thousand to reinstate Rescue 46. The cost of reinstating Rescue 50 will be borne by Clearwater's taxpayers to the tune of $315-thousand.
The ranks of city employees would be further reduced by two next year, with the City Attorney's office giving up one paralegal staff member, and the Public Communication department losing one CVIEW programmer.
An additional $120-thousand would be budgeted to keep the North Greenwood Library facility open next year, rather than it being consolidated into a smaller space within the North Greenwood Recreation Center.
The city's subsidy of Ruth Eckerd Hall would be increased by $13,570 to the full $400-thousand that had been requested. Those funds would come from renting office space in the city-owned downtown Lokey building to the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce.
The revised budget proposal allocates $197-thousand to General Fund Reserves. The elimination of the reserve funds could reduce the millage rate by about one-tenth of a mill according to Wilson, saving the owner of a home with a taxable value of $150-thousand $15 on their 2009/10 city tax bill.
The first of two public hearings on the city's 2009/10 budget and tax rate will be held tonight at 6PM in City Hall Council Chambers. The final public hearing will be held on Thursday September 17th at 6PM.
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