Largo Commission Resumes Reductions at Session Tonight
By Leo Coughlin
LARGO - The tough job of accommodating city expenditures to diminishing revenues - budget cutting, that is - gets down to cases tonight for the City Commission beginning at 6 p.m. at City Hall.
It will be the second meeting of the commission this week.
Tuesday night's regular meeting dealt with a host of subjects on a 33-item agenda, but the most pertinent in these times of money talk was the increase in some city fees.
This counterpoint to cutting expenditures involved some obscure areas that are not and never will be moneymakers for the city, but these days every little bit counts.
Among fees going up and approved on first reading Tuesday were library fines for overdue books, which will go from 10 cents a day to 15 cents.
The cost of reviewing plat pages will go up from $350 to $500, and there will be an increase in the Police Department fees for fingerprinting, an item perhaps few citizens are aware of.
One arcane item is a complicated "capacity to serve" which apparently involves connections to the city's sewer system, and another was contemplating a fee for work done in the city's rights of way.
The Library and police fees could raise $10,000. What would come in with other fee increases is not known. Recreation, Parks and Arts, a big spending department, is weighing the notion of increasing some of its fees.
These sorts of things will hardly make a dent in what the budget makers - chiefly City Manager Norton Craig, Assistant City Manager Henry Schubert and Budget Director Amy Davis - have to wrestle with.
And much of that will be taken up tonight. The memo accompanying tonight's session says, "The purpose of this work session will be to discuss the identified general fund budget reductions following the public engagement sessions."
Actually, the public "engagement" did not accomplish that much. A lot of it - held March 29 - resulted in pleas from supporters of Recreation, Parks and Arts projects to not cut programs.
Using some "round table" discussions, the expenditure cutting managed to eliminate some $827,600, which was $79,200 shy of the goal of $906,800 needed to reach the total reduction of $3.5 million.
Cuts so far in the Police Department amount to not funding positions that were currently vacant while Fire & Rescue's cutbacks were a little more dramatic with the closing of Station 41.
Recreation, Parks and Arts was hit hard, despite valiant efforts to rally the citizenry to put political pressure on commissioners.
It looks like Bonner Park, McGough Park and the Nature Park will close. The Cultural Center will also be hit and the Southwest Pool, which some have pointed out could be a profit center with the right promotion and management, will close.
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