Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn presents 2012 budget to City Council

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This morning, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn presented his preliminary city budget for fiscal year 2012. This is the new mayor’s first proposed budget. Buckhorn pitched the budget to the City Council in downtown.

Mayor Buckhorn has been saddled with the task of eliminating a $34.5 million shortfall in next year’s budget; a challenge he plans to meet without layoffs, raised property taxes, or reduced public services. But he said that he owes a great deal to his predecessor’s financial stewardship.

Next year’s budget will be $765.4 million . That’s $34.7 million less than this year’s budget. One of the greatest factors contributing to the revenue shortfall was the reduction in property values.

Tampa’s property tax millage rate hasn’t been raised since 1989, and Buckhorn promised that he will not raise property taxes, despite the loss in revenue.

But the current city revenue from property taxes is about $117 million. This doesn’t even cover the more than $200 million allotted to public safety, which is more than a quarter of the total city budget.

And Buckhorn says maintaining city parking services is an expenditure that has also cost the city dearly.

City Administrators had suggested job cuts that would have resulted in hundreds of layoffs, but the current budget manages to eliminate only 21 vacant positions.

The budget proposes bringing in an additional $7 million by increasing franchise fees the city receives from Tampa Electric. TECO customers should expect to pay a dollar fifty more per month on their electric bill. But not all of Buckhorn’s budget is cuts. There’s more funding for programs like “investing in neighborhoods,” which is receiving $2 million more this year.

The city has also just recently been upgraded to a AA+ bond rating by Standard & Poors, a move that will make it easier for the city to get loans.

Buckhorn also said that spending cuts aren’t the only strategy in promoting a healthy economy in Tampa.

Buckhorn emphasized that future budgets will only get tighter without sufficient revenue sources.

here will be public hearings for the proposed budget on September 7 and 21.

Here is the online version of the FY2012 budget presentation

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