Tampa Mayor & City Council discuss $20 Million in cuts - will announce layoffs tomorrow

06/27/07 Seán Kinane
WMNF Drive-Time News Wednesday | Listen to this entire show:

This morning the Tampa City Council met with Mayor Pam Iorio to discuss how around twenty million dollars might be cut from the city’s fiscal year 2008 budget. Tomorrow Mayor Iorio will announce layoffs of city Employees.

“It is going to be a significant number of employees that we will be laying off tomorrow.”

The budget cuts were necessary because of the State Legislature’s recently passed property tax cut mandating that cities and counties slash their budgets. The city is required to roll back their budget to last year’s value and then reduce it a certain percentage, which the city believes will be five percent. A proposed budget presented today represented a 12.5 percent decrease from what the city’s 2007-08 budget would have been without the mandated cuts. That represents a cut of over 22 million dollars.

Tomorrow’s announcement will only deal with decreasing the portion of the budget regarding personnel. Iorio said that other budget cuts and other revenue increases will not be addressed until the full general fund budget is submitted in August.

“Tomorrow is strictly about personnel. So tomorrow we’re not getting into all the other budget issues. We’re not talking about how we fund outside agencies, we’re not talking about operational decreases, and we’re not talking about pay increases. But when we do talk about pay increases, we cannot control the pay increases that are already part of three union contracts, which is the vast majority of our employees.”

If the budget proposed today takes affect, the millage rate for the City of Tampa would be reduced from 6.4 to 5.6.

The Mayor expressed concern that current city residents were footing the bill for new development. She said that raising development fees would be one step the city would look at to help growth pay for itself.

“We are going to be moving forward with bringing to counsel a proposal to make our development fees and our development services pay for themselves. Because what has gone on in our community for many, many years is that all taxpayers have been paying a portion of the cost of new development. We would like for development fees to pay their own way. But that takes time to implement. We have to meet with the affected industry; it has to go before council [counsel?]; and then you have to give it about a year for it to shake out to make sure that the new fees really equal the number of employees, so that’s not something we can count on in this particular budget year.”

In addition to the drastic cuts already mandated by the state legislature, further cuts would need to be made if voters pass the so-called ‘super-exemption’ to property taxes next January. But in an effort to take care of the immediate task of reducing the city’s budget, Mayor Iorio implied that the jobs of some long-standing employees might be in more danger than those positions she has created during her administration.

“So, when it comes time to cut back, do we go to those very positions that we just created? No, I think we look first administratively; we look first at the internal workings of government, we look at how we can do business more efficiently, we don’t look at those services that directly impact people on a day-to-day basis. Where we’ve increased over the past four years has impacted people on a day-to-day basis in a positive way. When we cut back, we’re going to try to do just the opposite.”

City Council member Mary Mulhern told WMNF that she thought there could be a lot of city employees who lose their jobs.

“You would have to do the math, which I don’t have directly in my head, but I think she [Iorio] said $20 million. So, if you figure an average salary of $50,000 or something, it could be a lot of people.”

The total personnel costs made up 76% of the 2007 General Fund Budget for Tampa, so based on a similar percent next year and the average salary estimated by Mulhern, that could mean that tomorrow when Mayor Iorio announces how many city employees will lose their jobs, the number could be in the hundreds, although Iorio would not commit to a number.

“I don’t want to say a number today. I want to make sure we try to be very methodical about this. I have one final meeting with my administrators this afternoon to go over it one more time before we start notifying people tomorrow. So, tomorrow we will go over with all of you the total number as well as have a list of every position affected for you.”

That was Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio. Tomorrow, WMNF will bring you information about how many City of Tampa Employees will be laid off and which positions would be eliminated.

Iorio quote delted for time
“We have increased new employees over the last four years, and I’ll tell you where we’ve increased them: fire, police, public works, parks and recreation and our economic development activities in these CRAs because they’ve been exploding. So, yes, that’s where our emphasis has been and we’ve been proud of that. In fact, every budget year, our theme is investing in neighborhoods. Well, what does that mean, it means parks and rec, police, and so forth, public works.”

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